Arbitration is a process where parties involved in a dispute agree to have their case heard and resolved by an impartial third party known as an arbitrator or an arbitration panel. Unlike a judge in a courtroom, the arbitrator’s decision called an award, is legally binding and final, just like a court judgment.
There are many benefits to arbitration and why that is usually used in civil disputes before going to a trial. Arbitration offers several advantages over traditional litigation. These include confidentiality, flexibility, and expertise. Arbitration proceedings are generally private and confidential, providing a level of privacy that court trials may not offer. Parties have more control over the arbitration process, such as selecting the arbitrator, determining the rules of procedure, and setting the hearing schedule. Parties can choose arbitrators with specialized knowledge and experience in the subject matter of the dispute, ensuring that the decision is made by someone well-versed in the relevant field.
The arbitration process is usually quick and painless to get going. The process begins when both parties agree to arbitration as the method of dispute resolution. They may have included an arbitration clause in their contract or decide to pursue arbitration after a conflict arises. The parties can mutually agree on an arbitrator or select one from an arbitration organization’s roster. The chosen arbitrator should be neutral and impartial. The parties submit written arguments, evidence, and witness statements to the arbitrator. The arbitrator may also hold pre-hearing conferences to clarify issues or encourage settlement negotiations. Similar to a trial, the hearing provides an opportunity for both parties to present their cases, call witnesses, and provide evidence. The arbitrator listens to the arguments and evidence and renders a decision based on the merits of the case. Once the arbitrator issues the award, it is binding on the parties. In most cases, the award can be enforced by the courts, similar to a court judgment.
There are however some drawbacks to arbitration. Unlike court judgments, arbitration awards have limited grounds for appeal, reducing the opportunities to challenge an unfavorable decision. Arbitration can also sometimes be more expensive than court litigation, particularly when complex cases require expert witnesses or extensive discovery. Arbitration awards are generally confidential and do not create legal precedents like court decisions. This means that similar cases may be decided differently in different arbitrations.
Arbitration is a valuable alternative to traditional court proceedings, offering parties a quicker, more flexible, and potentially more private way to resolve disputes. Understanding the arbitration process, its benefits, and its limitations can empower individuals to make informed choices when confronted with legal conflicts.
King Law Offices is a full-service law firm with an outstanding team of professionals who work diligently, creatively, and compassionately on behalf of our clients each day. If you have a current civil conflict, contact King Law at 888-748-KING (5464) for a consultation. We have offices located across western North Carolina and upstate South Carolina. We are here to serve you and to guide you as we navigate this journey together.