Some conflicts don’t lend themselves to negotiation or mediation. The issues you face may involve law, accounting, science or technology, Where the technical issue involves a critical matter of principle and getting to middle ground is not important, then both sides need an arbitrator, a neutral, unbiased, independant third party to listen to the evidence and decide the conflict.
Your first step is to agree to arbitrate, preferably in writing. One you have agreed to do so, the next step is to notify the other party that you want to arbitrate. If possible you try to select a single arbitrator. It’s less costly since all sides share the costs of an arbitration If you can’t agree on a single arbitrator, usually each side names one arbitrator and these arbitrators name a third.
Arbitrators acts like judges. Their decisions have the force of law just as a judge’s decisions do. The arbitrators can be assigned all of the powers that judges have. That is up to you. If you play your cards well, and decide to arbitrate, you can stay out of court. And court is not where you want to be. Our courts are taking at least five years for cases to get to trial. Besides that, they cost too much money and cause too much stress. Even worse, if the conflict involves businesses that would prefer to continue dealing with each other in the meantime, they lose out on valuable commercial opportunities.
The trick is for all sides to work with the arbitrator to set up procedures at the very beginning that move the arbitration through its paces quickly. This happens at a ‘preliminary first meeting’ which sets a time table for the entire process. Arbitrations should never duplicate the worst features of court trials. The back log in our courts aside from underfunding and a shortage of judges is that court procedures encourage lawyers to over paper and over argue every conceivable issue whether large or small. Most cases turn on a few major issues. Not every issue is important. The best arbitrations encourage everyone to be brief and to the point. In other words, less talk and less paper is always better than more.
Some arbitrations don’t require a formal hearing. This happens when the evidence is strictly documentary and witnesses are unnccessary. The arbitrator reads and considers all of the written material provided to him by the parties and decides who is right.
If you find yourself in one of these situations, let me apply my training and experience as an lawyer, Chartered Arbitrator, and Small Claims Court Deputy Judge to help you arbitrate the conflict quickly and inexpensively.