Over the past few years, the terms “mediation” and “arbitration” have been used with increasing frequency and most alarmingly, interchangeably with regard to property disputes. Typically, disagreements that enter into mediation or arbitration are able to be resolved quicker and with less complications than other legal means, however, it cannot be understated how quickly simple disagreements between two parties can escalate into larger, more complex issues. Trying to decide which route may be the more appropriate for your type of dispute, brings us back to the differences between these two methods of conflict resolution. And although there are many differences, today we will only look at a few of them as they relate to real estate and property disagreements.
The first place to begin would be to define the two terms as they relate to one another. Arbitration is an adversarial process where both sides of an argument can submit evidence of their position to an agreed upon third party. The decision is then left up to the discretion of this arbiter who conducts his or her proceedings much like a court, as this process is normally guided by formal rules and procedures set forth by the legal system. In order to have access to this as an available option and to compel everyone involved to participate, stipulations regarding arbitration must have been previously agreed upon by all parties.
Mediation is very different from arbitration in some ways, but similar in many more. Like arbitration, mediation is a process by which a third party works to resolve a dispute. Unlike arbitration however, this process is completely non-adversarial in that neither side can argue their position, but instead defer to the judgement of a third party. This process is intended to yield an amicably acceptable resolution for all parties in the dispute.
Both of these options (as well as negotiation and litigation) offer the benefit of being able to resolve disagreements faster and at a reduced cost than attempting to “win” your case in the court system or engaging the other party in litigation. As with most issues regarding property disputes, it is of great benefit to have an attorney who can help you to identify any complex legal issues that bear consideration and to offer guidance regarding your options or how to best protect your rights.