Some civil legal disputes involve confidential information that both parties prefer to keep out of court and off the public record. Individuals or businesses in Virginia may choose alternative dispute litigation to reach a settlement without a trial. These methods are usually more cost effective and quicker than litigation. Because both parties have the opportunity to present their cases in an informal environment, the discussions created may help preserve relationships. Whether your case requires mediation, arbitration, or participation in a settlement conference, the experienced attorneys at S.L. England, PLLC, are skilled negotiators who can present the strongest arguments on your behalf in alternative dispute litigation.
Mediation occurs when both parties voluntarily meet with a neutral third party. This third party, called the mediator, facilitates discussions to try to reach a resolution. The mediator has no authority to make a binding decision during the discussions but instead helps the parties communicate their demands and find areas where they agree. The mediator interprets both parties' concerns and may offer creative solutions. The parties are active participants in the negotiations and they have the power to accept or reject any proposed settlements. If an agreement cannot be reached during mediation, the case continues to trial.
Like mediation, arbitration occurs when the parties meet with a neutral third party, but the arbitrator has the sole discretion to determine the outcome of the dispute. This may be binding or non-binding. If the arbitration is binding, the arbitrator's decision is the final resolution to the dispute. The judge approves the decision and it is filed with the court as the final judgment. In non-binding arbitration, the parties reserve their right to take the dispute to trial if they do not agree with the arbitrator's decision. The parties have a limited right to appeal an arbitration award, which eliminates the lengthy and costly appeals process associated with trials.
A settlement conference may be voluntary or mandatory. A judge may order the parties to participate in a settlement conference, especially close to the trial date. Like mediation and arbitration, both parties meet with a neutral third party, but at the settlement conference, the third party evaluates the evidence and encourages negotiations between the parties. This is usually an informal meeting. If the parties reach an agreement, the attorneys prepare a settlement agreement that is filed with the court. The judge then dismisses the case. If the parties do not reach an agreement, the dispute continues to trial.
Do You Need an Alternative Dispute Litigation Attorney in Virginia?
When you or your business needs to settle legal disputes confidentially, the skilled attorneys at S.L. England, PLLC, can effectively represent you in alternative dispute litigation. Whether your case requires mediation, arbitration, or participation in a settlement conference, our attorneys have the skills to effectively negotiate a strong settlement for you without a trial. If you have a legal dispute that you want to keep out of court and off the public record in Virginia or Washington D.C., call us today at (202) 489-0720 or contact us online.