I work as a Bankruptcy Analyst at American InfoSource. I had no experience going into this job but it has definitely caught my interest. I have learned quite a bit of terminology in the five years I have worked there. I research court dockets and file claims for major creditors. I started working in the mail room where I would read the documents and sort them to be scanned into our system for evaluation. I have since been promoted to the position I carry now, where I wish to further my education with a degree in legal case management.
There are many instances where disputes occur that need to be resolved, although there are different ways of resolving your disputes without going to court, I typically see cases where there are objections to claims or ones that require going to court for settlement. Conflict is simply a fact of life. We face problems and disagreements all the time: at home, at work, and also in our neighborhoods. Not every dispute is serious, and we may choose to disregard some without any consequences. However, some are more serious and cannot be unnoticed. If they are not dealt with, they may end up becoming worse and take more time and money to resolve. Going to court is one way of resolving a dispute. However, it can be costly and time consuming. Furthermore, it is not always a substantial process for the parties involved. More and more people are working outside the courtroom for quicker and potentially less costly alternatives for resolving disputes.
There are three commonly used methods of resolving disputes without going to court: Negation, mediation, and arbitration. Each choice should be viewed as a distinct process, but each can be used alone or in combination. These processes offer choices for resolving your disputes.
In evaluating which process may be suitable for your dispute, it is important to keep certain things in mind. For instance, where one side has power over the other or where one party feels intimidated or frightened it may not be possible to resolve disputes fairly through processes such as negotiation or mediation. Barriers arising out of gender or cultural differences may also make it problematic for the parties to resolve the issues themselves.
People involved in a dispute can ask a mediator, an unbiased and impartial person, to assist them in their negotiations. Where negotiation has not been effective, the mediator can often help to ease tension and encourage discussion between the parties. The mediator can help the parties themselves find a solution that can often result in a “win-win” situation, where everyone is satisfied with the result. Participation in mediation may or may not be voluntary. For example, some courts require that certain cases be referred to mediation before a trial can be scheduled. Either way, the mediator cannot force you to settle the dispute or to accept a particular solution.
When people in a dispute cannot resolve the dispute themselves, either through face-to-face negotiation or with the assistance of a mediator, they can agree to refer the matter to arbitration. In arbitration, a neutral person or panel of people hears the facts and issues related and then makes a decision. Arbitrators are frequently people who are experts in a specific area of the law or a particular industry, especially in cases where the decision-maker needs to be well-informed about a particular subject matter or business practice.
The arbitrator or panel is usually chosen by the parties together. If they can’t agree, they can have a suitable person or organization choose the arbitrator for them. Otherwise, each can choose an arbitrator and the two arbitrators will then choose a third to make a panel of three. In some instances parties may prefer to have their matter heard before a panel.
Arbitration tends to be less formal and faster than going to court. The parties can agree in advance on the ground rules for the arbitration. One or both parties may have a representative speak for them at the arbitration hearing or they may speak for themselves. The arbitrator then makes a decision founded on the facts, any contract between the people, and the applicable laws. The arbitrator will explain how the decision was met. If the applicable law allows, you can decide yourself in advance whether the arbitrator’s decision will be final and binding or whether it should be subject to evaluation by a court if a party disagrees with the decision.
As time goes by, it may become harder to agree on a solution that satisfies everyone. Each side will become convinced they are “right” and the other side is “wrong”. If you have a lawyer, they may suggest you try mediation before going to court or you may be advised that it would be cheaper and faster to have the dispute go to arbitration. The fact is that most court actions settle before trial. Using alternative dispute resolution methods early can save both the time and money involved in taking a dispute to court.
Not everyone will immediately agree to participate in mediation or other process. They may need more information about how the process works and whether it fits their needs. They may also need some time to realize the cost and time involved in taking the dispute to court. Emotions are often highly stimulating. People may be angry or so determined on proving the other side “wrong” that nothing other than having their day in court will appeal to them. Sometimes, merely waiting a few days or weeks can make a difference and parties may be more willing to discuss the options more calmly and openly.
I look forward to the information I will gain from this class that I can use in the future. I enjoy learning as I go and extending my legal knowledge. The information will help me better understand the process that our legal department handles during these circumstances related to our job.