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A look at the differences between a mediation and an arbitration

For business owners in Florida involved in any kind of litigation, avoiding a lengthy and expensive trial is often desirable. There are two alternatives that are commonly used, known as mediation and arbitration. Since they are different, it may be helpful to understand the advantages and disadvantages of each.

An arbitration is a method of alternative dispute resolution that is often used by the court system to settle cases before they reach trial. According to the Huffington Post, arbitration can either be binding or non-binding. If the parties agree to a binding arbitration, whatever outcome is decided by the arbitrator is enforceable. If the arbitration is non-binding, the parties are not required to adhere to the terms the arbitrator decides. The arbitrator is typically a neutral third-party who listens to evidence from both sides and comes up with a resolution.

A mediation is very similar to an arbitration, in that both parties get the opportunity to argue their case in front of a neutral mediator. However, according to the Florida Courts website, rather than make a decision as to who wins or loses the case, a mediator suggests solutions and tries to help come up with an agreement that all the parties can consent to.

In some cases, simply having a third-party to facilitate the discussions can lead to a settlement. Once that settlement is agreed upon and put in writing, it becomes a document that is enforceable in court. However, if the mediation fails to reach an agreement acceptable to both parties, the case may still proceed to arbitration and eventually a trial, if necessary. 

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