Alternative Dispute Resolution in Illinois
For some smaller businesses, or those just getting started, the cost of court litigation can be prohibitive. Others may want to avoid litigation to preserve a relationship with a normally reliable contractor. A wise businessperson knows that rushing to court is not always the best solution. At Shipley Law Group, our business lawyers understand the importance of resolving disputes while preserving business relationships. That is why we are experienced in various alternatives to litigation, including arbitration and mediation.
Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods, such as arbitration and mediation, have some distinct advantages over a traditional lawsuit. For one, ADR is generally much less expensive. ADR is also much less public than a court proceeding, as it does not occur in open court and is not part of the public record.
Arbitration more closely resembles a lawsuit than mediation. In arbitration, the parties attend a hearing before a panel of neutral arbitrators. The parties may be represented by attorneys if they so choose. Each side presents evidence and witnesses, similar to a court hearing. Each party is entitled to cross-examine those witnesses. Once the hearing concludes, the arbitrators confer and render a written decision called an award. This award outlines how the parties should resolve their dispute and is binding upon both parties. Either party may ask a court to vacate, modify, or confirm an award—but the grounds for doing so are limited.
Arbitration is less costly than court litigation but still guarantees a result. In addition, an arbitration award is less likely to be appealed. This allows a more timely resolution, as opposed to a lawsuit—a process the other party can prolong by appeal. The downside to arbitration is that it is still an essentially adversarial process and can strain the relationship between the parties.
For parties who still enjoy a cordial relationship, mediation may be the best option. Unlike arbitration—where a neutral third party resolves the dispute for them—in mediation the parties create their own resolution with the help of a neutral mediator. Illinois business attorneys routinely represent clients during mediation.
While the mediator attempts to facilitate negotiation between the parties, he or she does not force any solution or make any report or recommendation to any court. Communications between the parties during mediation are generally confidential and privileged, and are not admissible in any future lawsuits. Mediation can facilitate an amicable resolution of a dispute and is an excellent way for parties to preserve their business relationship. But mediation is only effective when the parties are willing to negotiate.
If your business is involved in a dispute with a contractor, customer, or any other party, a costly lawsuit is not your only option. The business lawyers in Chicago at Shipley Law Group can counsel you on the benefits of alternative dispute resolution and provide experienced representation in any arbitration or mediation.
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