While we are a business litigation law firm, we often handle alternative dispute resolution matters. In fact, statistics suggest that only 5% of cases go to trial, so alternative dispute resolution is very common. Arbitration is a type of alternative dispute resolution. As the name suggests, it is an alternative to filing a traditional lawsuit. Unlike traditional litigation, arbitration is often hailed as quick, flexible, and affordable. However, arbitration does have its limitations and is not the best solution for all disputes. Many contracts include an arbitration provision. Anyone can agree to arbitrate a disagreement, but both parties must agree to do so. In this blog post, we will discuss what arbitration in Chicago, IL is, its benefits, and its restrictions.
Arbitration is a system of justice that does not follow the rules of traditional litigation. It is very lax because it is a simplified process. Arbitrators have autonomy in their decisions and the same rules as courts do not bind them. Additionally, discovery is frequently limited and does not follow the same processes as discovery in litigation. Arbitrators can accept evidence that may not meet the more stringent evidentiary requirements of courts. While this does offer cost-saving benefits, it can also weaken your case.
Arbitration is Quick and Flexible
Unlike standard litigation which can last years, arbitration typically is more expedited, often done within a year. Additionally, arbitration offers flexibility that traditional litigation cannot. Parties can choose the date, time, and place of the hearing, while traditional litigation relies on the court’s schedule. Furthermore, arbitral decisions are often confidential. This can be very appealing because businesses can avoid damage to their reputation.
Another benefit to arbitration is that parties can choose the arbitrator or the panel of arbitrators. In traditional litigation, the parties do not have a say in the choice of judge, other than through limited substitution of judges. The judge may not have any background on the issue at hand. With arbitration, the parties can choose an arbitrator that is an expert on the matter. Their unique understanding and experience are very helpful in complex disputes. However, arbitrators can be expensive based on their experience.
Arbitration Leaves Little Room for Appeal
A downside to arbitration is that there is little room for appeal outside the arbitration system. A court will hardly ever vacate an award unless it was “procured by corruption, fraud, or undue means”. This can be especially worrisome because arbitrators do not have to follow the law in the same way a court does. If you receive an “unfair” award, you have very little recourse.
While arbitration can be very helpful, it is not a solution for all disputes. Our experienced Chicago business attorneys can help you figure out if arbitration is the best option for your claim. Contact us today if you are considering alternative dispute resolution for your matter.