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Business owners: Consider alternative dispute options

Any time a business dispute arises, the parties involve typically want it resolved quickly and in their favor. However, not everyone can get everything they want in these situations. In some cases, one side wins and the other side loses after a lengthy court battle; in other cases, negotiations are made and resolutions are reached before the case heads to trial.

If you are currently facing a commercial or business dispute, you may expect that you will have to go through stressful civil litigation to resolve an issue. However, there are alternatives to litigation that you may want to consider. Doing so can save time and money, though you should be prepared for compromises and/or settlements that may be more or less than what you were expecting.

There are several different types of alternative dispute resolutions, but two of the more common options are arbitration and mediation.

Arbitration is something that parties often agree to pursue before there is ever a dispute. For example, employment agreements or commercial contracts may dictate that parties go through arbitration to resolve any future disputes. During arbitration, a neutral third-party hears the arguments from each side and then makes a ruling, which may be binding (final) or non-binding (not final).

Mediation also involves a neutral third-party, but this person helps each side reach an agreement through negotiation, compromise and discussion in the interest of solving the issue as peacefully and quickly as possible. One important distinction is that mediation is voluntary and if an agreement is not reached through mediation, the case can then go to court.

These alternatives to litigation may be attractive options for parties who wish to avoid a lengthy trial and minimize or reduce the expense of legal disputes.

Every case is different, however, so it is important to discuss individual situations with an attorney. Each type of dispute resolution has pros and cons that should be carefully considered before making any decisions.

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