Arbitration is a form of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) that avoids litigation by involving one or several impartial individuals to impose a legally binding settlement. It is a process by which parties enter into a contract or agreement to have the issues in their dispute determined by a third party called an arbitrator. Due to the ever-increasing number of court proceedings, cost of litigation, lack of privacy, and a myriad of other reasons, there has been a growing trend to resolve family disputes through some form of ADR.
The following is a brief overview of why one should consider arbitration over taking the family to court.
Arbitration is a private, generally confidential forum to resolve disputes. It may be preferable where the parties wish for matters to remain confidential. Unlike trial where the public can attend court hearings, and most court documents can be publicly accessed. Arbitration is not public. Documents are submitted directly to the arbitrator or arbitration panel. Proceedings take place behind closed doors with only the arbitrator and the present.
In trial proceedings, you are assigned a judge and have no input on who the finally selected judge will be. There are always judges who are very unpopular, and you might end up with one. In contrast, in arbitration, the parties choose who will arbitrate their case. This offers several advantages. Arbitration allows the parties to pick an arbitrator with specific expertise and experience related to their dispute. Additionally, for larger matters, the parties can choose a panel of three or even five arbitrators. Reducing the risk of relying on just one person to make the final decision and can be useful in complex, high risk and/or high dollar disputes.
The arbitration process is quicker and, often less expensive than proceeding to trial in the court system, depending on where one chooses to conduct the arbitration. The Dispute Resolution Centre provides dedicated, cost-effective and internationally recognised arbitration services in Trinidad and Tobago and the wider Caribbean. During the court system, it is not unusual for parties to be given a trial date that they must prepare for and not be heard by the court for various reasons. This can happen multiple times, costing thousands of dollars of lost preparation and travel expenses. This is unlikely to ever occur in the arbitration process.
The very purpose of arbitration is to provide a speedy resolution. While court cases may get to trial in as little as a year, many will not for two or three years, depending on the courts’ backlog. Arbitration, done right, is ideal for those cases. And don’t forget the time saved in the actual hearing: While the court’s hearing may take a couple of days, on the other hand, arbitrating parties can agree to whatever hours and days they please. This can drastically shorten the total hearing time. Whereas a judge in court will assign filing deadlines and hearings according to the court’s convenience, with minimal input from the parties, the arbitrator, deals less formally with relaxed rules and they may schedule the proceedings at mutually convenient times.
In arbitration, you can receive a final decision. In a court judgment, most if not all final decisions are subject to appeal. At the end of the process, the arbitrator issues a judgment or “award” that addresses all the issues that have been presented to the arbitrator to be resolved. Unless the parties agree otherwise, there are limited grounds to object to the confirmation of an award. The parties may agree in advance that the award will be binding and not subject to appeal in any way. This helps provide the level of finality tailored to the parties’ sensitivities.
Therefore, although arbitration may not be right for everyone, in most instances, arbitration provides many advantages over traditional litigation in the court, including enhanced privacy and confidentiality, cost savings, the ability to select a fair and qualified decision maker, the ability to tailor the process in a way that maximises the exploration of alternatives, and helps the parties to reach voluntary agreements.
The Dispute Resolution Centre is T&T’s #1 alternative dispute resolution agency dedicated to giving individuals and companies the necessary tools for resolving problems using ADR techniques, such as arbitration.
Contact us at 632-4051 or 637-2642 for more information about how you can become a certified arbitrator or learn more about our services.