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Arbitration v. Mediation

“Oh yeah, I’ll see you in Court!”

When legal disputes arise, many think that initiating a lawsuit via the court system is the only option. However, several options exist to resolve disagreements between parties short of litigation. Called “Alternative Dispute Resolution” or “ADR,” ADR has become an increasingly popular alternative to litigation and, in some situations, may even be required by law. ADR is an umbrella term for a list of dispute resolution options, with arbitration and mediation being the most popular options.


Arbitration most closely resembles litigation. In arbitration, an arbitrator, or a panel of arbitrators, are tasked to make decisions in the matter, along with investigating the facts and analyzing the dispute. Additionally, arbitration proceeds on a schedule like litigation, albeit with quicker deadlines and looser requirements. Further, since arbitration does not occur in open court, statements do not become public records. This provides a level of confidentiality that some parties might seek. Unlike litigation, arbitration is usually final and binding, and thus not appealable.


In mediation, parties will meet with mediators to discuss their arguments. The mediator will meet with parties individually and try to present weaknesses to the parties on their respective arguments. The mediator will then help facilitate discussions between the parties with the goal of reaching an agreement. If there is no resolution, the case will proceed to trial. Thus, mediation might not bring the same finality that arbitration or the court system will bring.

What Should You Do?

As stated above, there are pros and cons to both arbitration and mediation. To the surprise of some, several forms of contracts may have an arbitration or mediation clause, meaning that parties must go to ADR and forfeit the opportunity to go to a trial. However, although you are not in court, it is still prudent to contact an attorney to handle your case, even in a less formal ADR setting. An experienced attorney will be knowledgeable on the formal requirements and strategize to help you achieve the most beneficial outcome. It’s important to remember that settlement is always available with the other side, and the party who initiates the complaint is usually free to withdraw the complaint prior to arbitration, mediation or litigation.

Find an Experienced Phoenix Real Estate Attorney

While Alternative Dispute Resolution is a potentially beneficial forum, you will most likely need an experienced real estate attorney to help navigate and win your case. The attorneys at MacQueen & Gottlieb have significant experience with mediation, arbitration, and litigation in a variety of matters in Arizona. Our team can review your case, detail your available options, represent your and legal interests in any negotiations with a lender. Contact us today at 602-412-1031 to schedule an initial consultation or make an appointment online.



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