Mediation and Arbitration (Alternative Dispute Resolution)

Often disputes between parties can be resolved through mediation. Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) in which the parties to a dispute or lawsuit meet with a neutral third-party in an effort to settle the case. The third-party is called a mediator. The mediator’s job is to listen to the evidence, help the parties understand each other's viewpoint regarding the controversy, and then facilitate a negotiation to reach a voluntary resolution to the dispute. The purpose of mediation is to avoid the time, expense and stress of further litigation or trial by settling a lawsuit or dispute. Mr. Hemmat mediates both family and civil law matters and disputes.

Importantly, mediation is not binding on the parties. The mediator's role is not to reach a decision - it is to help the parties reach their own decision. The most common form of mediation practiced by Mr. Hemmat is “evaluative mediation.” In this process, Mr. Hemmat assists the parties in reaching a resolution by pointing out the strengths and weaknesses of their cases, and predicting what a judge (or jury in a civil dispute) would be likely to do. Mr. Hemmat holds separate meetings with the parties and their attorneys, practicing “shuttle diplomacy” between the parties. This allows the parties and their attorneys to better evaluate their legal position and the costs vs. the benefits of pursuing a legal resolution rather than settling in mediation.

In this process, Mr. Hemmat uses his experience and skill to guide the parties toward an acceptable resolution for both sides. Your choice of mediator is important; you want an impartial and experienced legal professional who is familiar with the subject matter and law regarding the case.

Arbitration, on the other hand, is a more involved process. When parties to a dispute select arbitration, a person called an “arbitrator” acts to investigate the facts, analyze the dispute, and render a decision on the matter. Usually, this is done in a process very similar to a trial, though with more relaxed procedural requirements and a shorter time frame. The parties agree to accept the decision of the arbitrator as final and binding and that the decision will be enforced by the courts if either party violates it.

An arbitrator presides over a hearing (the arbitration) in which witnesses testify and documents are considered, much like court litigation. Discovery and pre-hearing procedures are typically limited or abbreviated to accelerate the process and keep costs down. The parties can institute other cost-saving measures such as eliminating transcripts and briefs if they agree to these measures. Appeals from arbitration decisions are only available on very limited grounds. Although arbitration is more formal and expensive than mediation, it is still less expensive and more expeditious than litigation.

The biggest difference mediation and arbitration, besides the different procedures, is that the arbitrator makes a formal decision which resolves the dispute.

Mr. Hemmat has mediated and arbitrated dozens of family law and civil matters, and for many years has served as a mediator for the King County Superior Court. Please contact Mr. Hemmat for his availability to serve as mediator or arbitrator in your legal disputes.

Photo of man in suit shaking hand after postive mediation outcome

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