Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is a process that allows parties to settle their legal disputes outside of litigation. Arbitration and mediation are the most common types of alternative dispute resolution. The parties involved in a legal dispute have the option to agree to engage in alternative dispute resolution voluntarily. Many contracts require parties to attend arbitration or mediation when disputes arise. Additionally, South Carolina courts can require disputing parties to engage in mediation or arbitration.
The experienced business lawyers at Willcox, Buyck & Williams, PA have decades of experience in alternative dispute resolution. We understand the unique requirements of alternative dispute resolution, and we are prepared to advocate for you through the process. With law offices in Florence and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, our law firm has provided South Carolina individuals and businesses with excellent legal representation for over 100 years. Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation.
There Are Many Types of Alternative Dispute Resolution
Alternative dispute resolution has become more popular in recent years because it offers clients a way to resolve disputes that is often less time consuming and costly. The term “alternative dispute resolution” refers to any type of approach to resolve disputes between two people or companies outside the state or federal court system. In other words, when you engage in alternative dispute resolution, you will settle your differences without either party filing a claim in court.
The most common forms of alternative dispute resolution are mediation and arbitration. However, alternative dispute resolution also includes conciliation, collaborative law, and negotiation. Every type of alternative dispute resolution abides by its own set of rules and formalities. Many people consider mediation to be the least formal dispute option for alternative dispute resolution, as arbitration often involves a panel of impartial third-party arbitrators and an established set of procedural rules. Nonetheless, all alternative dispute resolution types aim to settle outside of the judicial process. At Willcox, Buyck & Williams, PA, we have experience representing clients in all of the following types of alternative dispute resolution processes:
- Collaborative Law
Florence and Myrtle Beach SC Mediation Lawyer
As mentioned above, mediation is often thought of as the least formal type of alternative dispute resolution. In this informal, private process, the mediator meets with both parties as a group and as individuals. The mediator is a neutral third party whose main objective is to help both parties reach a settlement agreement. During the mediation process, both parties will submit evidence. The mediator will often ask questions of the parties and important witnesses.
Based on their expertise and training, mediators make suggestions to both parties to help them move forward towards an agreement. Mediators do not have the authority to make a judgment as state and federal court judges do. Instead, mediators focus on using the mediation process to spur the parties involved to settle. The participants in a mediation play a large role in determining their case’s outcome, and the mediator acts as a guide.
The Enforceability of Mediation and Arbitration Clauses in Contracts
Generally, contracts that require the parties to attend mandatory arbitration or mediation are enforceable in South Carolina. However, a South Carolina court may strike down provisions and contracts that require the parties to attend arbitration hearings. For example, when the arbitration clause is unclear or unconscionably unfair to one party, courts may not require the parties to go through the arbitration process. Additionally, courts are more likely to strike down clauses requiring arbitration of disputes involving infringement of intellectual property rights.
Florence and Myrtle Beach SC Arbitration Lawyer
The arbitration process is typically more formal than mediation. One arbitrator, or a panel of three arbitrators, will render a decision. When arbitration is required due to a contract clause, the contract often states how the parties must go about appointing an arbitrator. Depending on the situation, the parties themselves can select their arbitrator. An arbitration agency may also designate an arbitrator. Like mediators, arbitrators are neutral third parties with no personal interest in the case’s outcome.
The arbitrator or arbitrators will conduct a hearing. Both parties will have an opportunity to submit evidence and provide testimony at the hearing. Before the hearing, there will be a limited discovery process in which both parties present evidence. Next, the parties will submit pre-hearing legal arguments to the arbitrator. The evidentiary and procedural rules in arbitration are different than those in South Carolina courts. For this reason, you must hire a lawyer who has experience with arbitration to represent you. During the hearing, the arbitrator will consider all of the arguments and evidence submitted by both parties.
After the hearing is over, the arbitrator or arbitrators will make a decision called an “award.” Even though the arbitration process is separate from state and federal courts, the arbitrator’s award is binding and final. The parties can enforce the terms of the award in state courts should doing so become necessary. Appealing an arbitration award is often challenging unless the terms of the contract specifically allow an appeal.
Mock Trials in Dispute Resolution
In some cases, sophisticated litigators will practice trying their cases in a mock trial before engaging in litigation. At Florence and Myrtle Beach, SC, we have acted as judges or jury members in these types of mock trials. We enjoy engaging in mock trial activities to further the professional development of South Carolina litigators
Contact Our Alternative Dispute Resolution Lawyers
At Willcox, Buyck & Williams, PA, we understand that arbitration and mediation are effective methods for resolving disputes outside of traditional litigation. Whether you are involved in a dispute in a personal injury claim, an employment dispute, or an insurance coverage dispute, engaging in alternative dispute resolution can provide you with a cost-effective method to resolve your case. When representing our clients in alternative dispute resolution cases, we rely on our decades of legal experience to effectively advocate on their behalf. Contact our South Carolina law firm today to learn how we can represent your best interests when engaging in alternative dispute resolution.