What Are Some of the Benefits of Arbitration?
The number-one benefit of arbitration is that it serves as a forum to resolve disputes outside of the judicial system. Arbitration can be fast, quick and easy, whereas lawsuits can drag on for years and years. Since the rules of evidence and procedure are usually relaxed in arbitration proceedings, the parties are also in a better position to represent themselves without having to get lawyers involved.
It naturally follows that arbitration also tends to be less expensive than pursuing a lawsuit. While the parties will usually end up having to pay the arbitrator, his or her fees will inevitably be less than the attorneys’ fees that they may have to pay to take the same case to trial.
Even in non-binding arbitration, a benefit can be that it serves to bridge the gap in an adversarial proceeding so that the parties can get a better glimpse of where things are headed if they are unable to resolve their differences. Most cases settle, but many times it is not until the parties are “on the courthouse steps.” Non-binding arbitration may help to facilitate a settlement sooner rather than later.
Another good thing about arbitration is that an arbitrator is typically not bound by the strict rules of procedure in reaching a decision. He or she can consider a lot more facts and circumstances than a judge or jury. Arbitrators typically try to be practical and oftentimes look at compromise as being inherently fair. Thus, the likelihood is that an arbitrator’s decision will award something to at least one of the parties. However, you should not expect that damages will be awarded that are anywhere near what a jury might award if (and that is a big if) the matter is tried before a jury.
Arbitration can also bring finality. Sometimes for the better, a decision on a binding arbitration cannot be appealed or overturned in the absence of a showing of extraordinary circumstances (for example, fraud, bias or other inappropriate actions on the part of the arbitrator). Thus, once a decision is rendered, the case is over. The losing party will typically not be able to appeal (which can make the matter drag on for years and years).
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