Litigation or Mediation or Arbitration?

It is not uncommon for Massachusetts business and consumers to become ensnared in a dispute with family members, neighbors, business partners, vendors, customers, contractors, and other parties.  When that happens, it is best to contact an experienced Massachusetts litigation attorney as soon as possible and to avoid acting as your own lawyer . When a dispute arises, there is more than one way to resolve the dispute. The most common method of dispute resolution is litigation. In other words, you will "sue" or file a lawsuit in State or Federal Court, which will submit you to a binding and rigid process that will decide the outcome of any claims and requests for assistance. Litigation is costly, time consuming and represents a stressful experience. Many parties are not mentally or financially prepared to endure this process. 

Litigation is the formal process of resolving a grievance through the Federal or State Court systems. The process begins with the filing of a complaint, which places the opposite party on notice of your legal and equitable claims, as well as the factual allegations in support of those claims. A complaint can also be used to support preliminary relief, such as a Motion for Real Estate Attachment; Preliminary Injunction or Lis Pendens.  These early remedies are designed to prevent the transfer, concealment and liquidation of assets, and to help provide a security for judgment.  The parties will then enter the process of obtaining evidence to support or refute the claims, and then submit their respective cases to a jury or judge at trial. A trial can provide varying results that will leave litigants with potentially a complete victory, a total loss or a "push. A trial is risky for all litigants and can produce sometimes unpredictable results. 

As a way for avoiding the costs and risk associated with litigation, there are alternative dispute options available to parties.  

What is the Difference Between Mediation and Arbitration?

The difference between mediation and arbitration is commonly misidentified. Mediation is a formal process where a neutral third party (a mediator) attempts to negotiate and assist the parties in coming to settlement terms.  A mediator is often a retired judge, experienced and respected attorney, and does not "take sides" in any dispute.  Parties can always negotiate settlement terms on their own, however, those discussions can sometimes lead to deadlock or become stale. Therefore, a mediator can offer fresh perspectives for both parties; render opinions about the strengths and weaknesses on the claims and defenses; provide different settlement structures; and minimize the emotional responses, animosity and vitriol that has boiled over during a dispute. This process is voluntary and neither party is compelled to accept an agreement in mediation, however, the majority of qualified mediators are adept at getting the parties to find an agreement that they can live with. 

On the other hand, Arbitration is a formal process that allows parties to try their case privately and without court assistance. This process is typically expedited and the trial is before a arbitration and not a jury of peers. At the arbitration, each party will have the opportunity to provide witness testimony and enter documents into evidence. The arbitrator will then make a decision in the weeks or months that follow the arbitration. This written decision may be filed in Federal or State Court, and can have the same effect as a judgment against a party.  That is, unless, a party appeals the decision and is successful in overturning the decision on appeal. 

Some of the immediate advantages of mediation and arbitration are cost and time.  The legal fees and expenses are substantially lower if a case settles in mediation or tried before an arbitrator. The time that it takes for a grievance is also substantially reduced. 

If you have questions about the dispute resolution process, please contact one of our Massachusetts litigation attorneys at 781-463-6063. We can advise you as to the best method of dispute resolution, Our litigation attorneys serve clients in Boston, the Greater Boston area, and, of course, throughout the North Shore.