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The system of litigation utilized in the United States is adversarial rather than inquisitorial. This system relies upon procedural and evidentiary rules which govern the presentation of facts as presented and contested by opposing parties. An alternative to litigation is mediation, which removes many of the obstacles that make litigation costly to parties because of the expenditures of time and resources that are often unnecessary and wasteful.
Although litigation in America has the reputation of being complex, cumbersome, expensive, and overly time-consuming, the adversarial system tends to ensure a high degree of accuracy in the decision ultimately rendered. It allows a participant to challenge any fact based on specific rules ensuring that evidence is credible and not prejudicial, thus leading to a decision that is foundationally sound.
Mediation has become an extremely popular alternative to litigation since it focuses on settlement rather than a contest. It involves the parties presenting their cases to a neutral third party who attempts to assist in facilitating negotiations between the parties. The mediator attempts to lead the parties through discussions to find those issues on which the parties agree and thus ultimately reach an outcome that is mutually beneficial to both parties.
One of the greatest advantages of mediation is that it is expedient and often occurs when a dispute first arises before substantial time and resources are expended. Compared to litigation, mediation offers disputing parties many advantages including reduced costs, a mutually beneficial outcome, the potential preservation of the parties' business relationship, and more predictability in the final outcome.
While mandatory non-binding mediation may be the answer to solving a business dispute, one of its disadvantages is that it rarely works when the parties are already hostile or tend to act unreasonably. If a business relationship has already dissolved or if the parties are unwilling to compromise on certain issues, mediation may fail to present any real benefits to the participants.
When disputes arise between parties to a commercial transaction, mediation may be the answer to resolving the conflict. An experienced business attorney may provide a careful analysis of legal issues to ensure that the outcome of any dispute, whether reached through mediation, litigation, or arbitration, is equitable, beneficial, and feasible. At the Metcalf Adair Law firm, we can assist any employer in any business situation.