RESOLVING DISPUTES BY ARBITRATION DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
Anyone who has ever been involved in litigation understands the long, gruesome process of getting their case to trial. However, this already lengthy process has been turned upside down by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused courthouse closures and trial suspensions throughout the State. While it is not yet clear what the ultimate impact on the court system will be, significant delays in court hearings and trials are expected. Given these delays, binding arbitration may be considered as a potentially speedy and efficient alternative to the court system as a means to resolve a dispute.
What is Arbitration?
Arbitration is a substitute for a proceeding in court and is a form of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). It involves a neutral third party, the arbitrator, who makes a decision after considering the evidence and arguments presented by each side. Arbitration can be either voluntary or mandatory. Mandatory arbitration usually comes from a statute, or a contract that the parties entered into wherein they agreed to resolve any dispute by binding arbitration.
Arbitration as an Alternative to a Court Action
Arbitration can be a preferable alternative to a court action for many business disputes. Arbitration can be beneficial because:
- You can avoid the congested court system. Court actions can take years to reach trial. These delays are expected to only worsen due to courthouse closures and safety procedures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. With arbitration, the parties control the scheduling of the arbitration hearing, subject only to the availability of the arbitrator. Disputes may be resolved in months, rather than years.
- You don’t have to worry about a jury. Juries sometimes make decisions based on emotion, or based on other factors outside of the letter of the law. You don’t have to worry about this as much with arbitration, which is overseen by a professional arbitrator.
- You can keep disputes private. Arbitration proceedings can be kept confidential and even the fact that a disagreement has arisen does not necessarily have to be made public.
- You can select an arbitrator with insider knowledge. If your dispute arises out of a technical issue, you can select an arbitrator with the understanding that is necessary to make an informed decision. This can result in better outcomes than asking a jury with no industry experience to try to make decisions on complex business matters.
- You can control the discovery process. Discovery is the process by which litigants gather evidence for use at trial. Discovery in arbitration proceedings can be limited by the parties, saving time and money, or the parties may decide to conduct discovery in the same manner as a court action. Code Civ. Proc. §1283.05.
If you think arbitration may be right for you, or if you are not certain about the best possible approach to resolving a dispute, our Irvine based team of experienced business litigation attorneys and trial specialists are here to help. Contact Brown & Charbonneau, LLP today by calling 714-505-3000 to schedule your appointment or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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