Arbitration and Mediation in Business Disputes

Boston business litigation lawyerIt should come as no surprise that, because court dockets are regularly crammed with cases, judges greatly encourage businesses involved in legal disputes to seek an alternative to a protracted trial. Two such alternatives are widely used. However, you should still work with a Woburn business lawyer.


Like a jury trial, arbitration is adversarial in nature. Both parties agree on an impartial third party—often a panel—that listens to both sides of the dispute, weighs the evidence, then makes a determination. Your Woburn business lawyer may be present in case you have questions. The decision of the arbitrator is binding, and appeals are not usually very successful. The disputing parties can also agree in advance to arbitration as merely a tool for coming to an agreement; the arbitrator’s decision in such case would only be for advisement.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Arbitration is generally much less expensive that a trial. It also adds an element of confidentiality to the case. Businesses often are not eager to have potentially sensitive issues exposed for public scrutiny. A case that is arbitrated usually takes much less time than if fought in court.

A significant disadvantage, however, is in the latitude arbitrators are given minus a close degree of control over their conduct. Arbitrators are not held to account for following the letter of the law in their decisions to the extent judges are, and there is little legal recourse if they fail to do so.


Another option for business disputes is mediation. Unlike arbitration, mediation is not adversarial; rather, a mediator is mutually selected to be present as both sides try to work out their differences. A Woburn business lawyer can be present, but both parties work with each other directly. The mediator serves as a facilitator, and does not provide legal advice to the involved parties, nor render a decision.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Mediation can help save the business relationship of the conflicting parties for the future. Moreover, both parties are in control of the outcome, as opposed to arbitration. The information discussed is kept confidential as well.

Perhaps the main disadvantage of mediation is that the parties may not be able to come to an agreement, which  necessitates either arbitration or litigation. Anything that is said in a mediation meeting cannot be used in a court battle later.

Most businesses opt for either arbitration or mediation if it is available to them. If your business is involved in a dispute, call Woburn business lawyer David Ionson for a consultation today at (781) 674-2562.

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