Arbitration or litigation? Which of these is better than the other? You may find yourself at a standpoint having to choose between arbitrating or litigating your matter. Here are three reasons why some people may think arbitration is better than litigation. Here is my opinion:
Choice of Arbitrator
One of the downsides to litigation in civil court is that the parties have no control over the judge assigned to their matter. Rather, the court clerk will randomly assign a judge to each case, regardless of whether that judge has knowledge of the subject matter of that particular action. Moreover, while there are many competent and fair judges in the courts, there are also ones who (maybe not intentionally) generally favor plaintiffs over defendants, or vice versa. There are also judges who are hesitant to make final decisions, resulting in unnecessarily prolonged cases.
However, in arbitration, the parties have the freedom to choose an arbitrator that they mutually agreed upon. For example, if the parties’ dispute involves construction, then they can search for an arbitrator who has had experience adjudicating construction matters or litigating such matters during their practice prior to becoming an arbitrator. Arbitrators consist of both experienced attorneys and former judges; therefore, the parties do not have to worry that their arbitrator lacks experience in comparison to a civil court judge.
Another reason why arbitration is better than litigation is because generally, arbitrations are resolved quicker than litigation. The trial date for a litigation in civil court is generally set at least one year after the case is filed. Therefore, the parties will have to wait at least one year before they can get a final resolution to their matter. That means one year of expenses and added stress. However, arbitrations are generally resolved in a shorter time span. Depending on the amount in controversy and the type of arbitration, it can be completed in as short as 45 days. A shorter turnaround time means less attorneys’ fees incurred and less stress for the parties involved.
Moreover, unlike civil court judges who are assigned a large number of cases, arbitrators generally have a much lighter caseload. Therefore, if a party decides to file a motion, an arbitrator will likely be able to hear that motion sooner than a civil court judge. There have been times when a motion in a civil court cannot be heard until 4-5 months after the motion is filed due to the judge’s overloaded docket. Many times, this will result in the attorney filing an ex parte application to advance the hearing date or an ex parte application to continue the trial date in order for the motion to be heard prior to trial.
Our third reason why arbitration is better is because the parties to an arbitration may be able to conduct discovery just as if they were litigating their matter in civil court. Sometimes, there are limits, however. But the parties typictypciallylly will not lose out on discovering any crucial evidence prior to the arbitration hearing. For example, they will be able to conduct written discovery, such as interrogatories and document production, depositions, and subpoenas. Since discovery is the backbone of all lawsuits, the parties do not have to worry about negatively affecting their case if they choose to arbitrate their matter.
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By Carina Woo, esq.
See related: Arbitration vs Court: Five Reasons to Choose Court