What is arbitration and why might it be preferable to a trial?

When you have a legal dispute in California, is your only choice to litigate the matter in a trial? The trial process can be lengthy and expensive. For this reason, some individuals with legal disputes choose to arbitrate their issue, rather than immediately resorting to litigation.

What is arbitration?

Arbitration is an alternative dispute resolution process. Through arbitration, the parties along with their attorneys will have a hearing in which they will submit evidence and argue their case before an arbitration. The arbitrator is a neutral third-party and arbitration is a private process. The arbitrator will issue a decision about the dispute.

This is different from mediation, as a mediator is not a decision-maker. The arbitrator may simply announce that they made a decision while other times the arbitrator will expand on that decision and provide their reasoning for coming to their conclusion. Arbitration can be binding, meaning the decision is enforceable by a court, or it can be non-binding meaning it will be final only if both parties accept it.

What are the benefits of arbitration?

Arbitration is similar to a civil trial, but arbitration is generally completed quicker and is less formal. Oftentimes the parties do not need to adhere to federal or California rules of evidence and depending on the circumstances the arbitrator is not required to apply the applicable law when reaching a decision.

Learn more about arbitration

Arbitration may be more appealing than going through a full-blown trial, but those considering arbitration should make sure they understand the process and their rights under it. Our webpage on arbitration has more information on this process that readers in California may find useful.

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