Alternative methods of dispute resolution are becoming a more popular choice for many who are involved in business disagreements. Mediation and arbitration often save companies and individuals time, money and resources. In fact, many businesses mandate arbitration in their contracts so that both parties are banned from seeking resolutions through lawsuits. Since construction projects often result in contract disputes and other disagreements, arbitration is a common path to resolve these issues.
When a case goes to arbitration, both sides present their arguments to a neutral party who makes a decision. Unlike court, there is no lengthy discovery, and the presentation of evidence usually comes from the main parties and not witnesses. When the arbitrator has heard enough to render a decision, the testimony ends and the decision is final, typically with no appeal allowed.
Consumers should carefully read any clauses related to arbitration before signing a construction contract. Some companies may force arbitration but also reserve the right to use their own arbitrator, which could place the other party at a disadvantage. In fact, it is wise for anyone to discuss arbitration terms with an attorney before signing a construction contract.
While often a less costly and stressful alternative to litigation, arbitration can still be a complex process. When contract disputes or other construction matters are heading toward arbitration, the most valuable advice a contractor or consumer can receive may come from someone who has experience in the construction industry as well as skill representing those in arbitration. An attorney with knowledge of the construction business may be able to provide effective advocacy throughout the process.