See below for a brief overview and comparison of Arbitration and Mediation and how they can be used as an alternative to resolving a dispute in court.
Arbitration is an alternative (non-voluntary) way of resolving any type of dispute. The arbitrator hears the disagreement between one or more parties and after considering all relevant information renders a final decision in favour of one of the parties. Decisions may be binding or non-binding, depending on the terms of the arbitration agreement. You do not need a solicitor, however it is advisable to retain one.
Why use arbitration over going to court?
Arbitration is generally less expensive than going to court and provides for a faster resolution through flexible scheduling and simpler rules. Arbitration results are confidential, only made public with the consent of the parties involved. The cost will vary depending on the arbitrator’s fee, the complexity of the case, and the length of the arbitration.
Business Arbitration Scheme
The Business Arbitration Scheme was set up in March 2010 by the Law Society to assist businesses with the resolution of disputes. The scheme offers a fast, cost-effective alternative to the litigation process, and is suitable for any dispute between businesses involving sums up to €100,000 in value.
For more information, download the Business Arbitration Scheme Leaflet.
Mediation is where parties to a dispute agree to the appointment of a mediator who will try to help the parties settle the dispute. Mediation is voluntary and although a judge may strongly recommend parties to mediate, parties may decline to do so, or may abandon mediation at any time. However, once a resolution is reached, it can be made binding if the parties decide to draft a contract called a settlement agreement. Mediations are not "decided" in favour of one party or another; rather, the mediator simply facilitates the negotiation process. The parties decide their own outcome.
Mediation is common in commercial, property, family and employment disputes but the process can be used in any type of dispute. Solicitors have a key role in mediation, they assist their clients to marshal the facts and arguments needed in mediation and advise their clients on the legal issues and the pros and cons of settlement.
Where parties agree to mediate, they or their lawyers will often draw up a short-list of suitable candidates. The Law Society of Ireland maintains a register of practising solicitors who will accept instructions to act as mediators.
For more information about using arbitration or mediation for resolving disputes, please talk to your solicitor.