Business disputes come in a variety of forms and can range in severity from mild inconveniences to serious issues with the potential to bankrupt your company. Fortunately, there are several ways in which business disputes can be resolved. In Alabama, disputes are frequently resolved via negotiation, mediation, arbitration, or in court. If your company is facing a business dispute that needs to be resolved, consult with a competent corporate law attorney in order to discuss your case and select which dispute resolution avenue is most advantageous given your situation.
Negotiation involves any communication between two or more parties in order to reach an agreement or compromise. Negotiations are entered into voluntarily, can be as formal or informal as the parties wish, and involve only the parties and their representatives without a third party neutral leading the process.
Mediation is a process that adversarial parties engage in with the aim of settling a dispute or controversy with the help of an independent third party, or mediator. It is the mediator’s job to facilitate open communication and dialog between the parties. Mediation.com notes that most mediations encompass the same key qualities:
- Voluntary: Parties engage voluntarily in a mediation and are allowed to leave at any time and for any reason.
- Controlled: Each participant has complete control over the outcome of the mediation. In other words, both parties must agree to every term of the resolution and will never be forced into an agreement that they are not comfortable with.
- Confidential: Mediations are generally confidential, meaning that everything said and any documents presented during the course of the mediation are not admissible in a subsequent court proceeding (except for the finalized mediated agreement).
Arbitration is similar to mediation in that during both processes the dispute is submitted to neutral third parties for help. However, arbitration is binding, while mediation is voluntary. Arbitration proceedings are less formal than court proceedings, but the arbitrator does control the proceeding and hear evidence in a manner similar to a judge. After the parties present their evidence and arguments, the arbitrator issues a written award that is generally binding. Arbitration agreements are enforceable by a court order if the parties do not voluntarily comply.
Going to Court
Negotiation, mediation, and arbitration are all alternatives to traditional litigation and are collectively referred to as types of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). However, these methods of dispute resolution are not always effective, and as a means of last resort there is always the option of asking a court to resolve your dispute for you. While many people relish the idea of having their day in court in order to prove that they are in the right, keep in mind that court proceedings can be expensive and time consuming. Sometimes putting aside your ego and giving ADR a chance before going to court can be in the best interest of your company.
Need Legal Advice?
If you have a business dispute in Alabama that needs to be resolved, contact the business litigation and corporate law attorneys at Cloud Willis & Ellis, LLC today. Our experienced dispute resolution attorneys would be happy to discuss your dispute with you and represent you in whichever form of dispute resolution makes the most sense given your particular situation. Contact our offices in either Birmingham (205-322-6060) or Mobile (251-545-4844) today.