Though the lockdowns and court closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have eased, it could take months, or even years, for the judicial system to work through the backlog. Accordingly, businesses involved in disputes that seem headed toward trial might benefit by considering a means of alternative dispute resolution. Whether they previously considered it for cost reasons or were compelled to do so by pandemic-related lockdowns, many business litigants have already used arbitration to resolve their legal matter in a fair, efficient manner.

The benefits of arguing your case before a neutral decision-maker are numerous and applicable even in a post-coronavirus world. Arbitrations tend to proceed more quickly than court cases, simplifying and avoiding many of the pretrial procedures that delay bringing a case to a conclusion. Furthermore, the grounds for contesting arbitrators’ decisions (known as awards) in court are limited, and such proceedings are therefore rare. As an added bonus, arbitrations usually result in lower legal fees than parties would incur in comparable court cases and are therefore more cost-effective for both sides.

Arbitration is also more flexible than going to court. The parties have the opportunity to help select the arbitration forum, and often the specific arbitrators. You can choose to select a decision maker who has special expertise in the subject matter of the lawsuit. The parties can also adopt special procedures that are tailored to the case and the arbitrators can be more flexible than judges about what evidence to admit.

Participating in an arbitration is more private than going to court, since the proceedings are not a matter of public record. If a party moves to confirm or vacate an arbitration award, the court might render an opinion that reveals some aspects of the case, but that is even less common than judicial review of awards. This confidentiality makes it less likely that arbitration will result in publicity that might damage the businesses’ goodwill.

Each situation is unique and in your case the benefits of going to arbitration, might be outweighed by potential drawbacks, such as the lack of a full discovery process or the limitations on appealing an adverse decision. Nevertheless, many businesses find that arbitration is a useful means to decide disputes. In fact, many large businesses require their customers to arbitrate any disputes they have with them. Consulting with an attorney with a strong background in arbitration will help you whether you resolve your dispute in this manner or need some advice on the best way to proceed.

The Law Firm of Joseph M. Udall, PLC is experienced in representing parties to business disputes in arbitrations. If you want to learn more about this option, call our Mesa, Arizona office at (480) 500-1866 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.