Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) represents a flexible, accessible and cost-effective alternative to formal legal action. With most issues involving asset distribution following bereavement, it is perfectly possible to settle the matter without courts involvement.
In fact, court intervention for settling will and estate disputes should be considered only as a last resort.
Of the various alternative dispute resolution options available, the most effective by far are arbitration and mediation. Both of which can help bring even the most complex estate disputes to a prompt and amicable resolution, for the benefit of all parties involved.
But what are the key differences between arbitration and mediation? More importantly, which of the two options is more suitable for your case?
Mediation involves a neutral party (aka an evaluator or mediator) whose job is to help the parties involved reach an amicable agreement. The parties involved in the dispute meet in a neutral location with the mediator, in order to present their arguments and tell their stories. Viewing the situation from an entirely impartial perspective, the mediator provides objective support and advice on how the situation could be resolved.
However, the mediator stops short of providing direct solutions, or stating which parties/arguments are right or wrong. It is ultimately up to those involved in the dispute to determine the way forward – the mediator simply brings an objective and neutral perspective into the debate.
The immediate benefit of mediation is the fact that it gives the parties in the dispute the opportunity to resolve the matter with no direct outside involvement. It can also eliminate the costs and complexities of court involvement, bringing the matter to a conclusion as quickly as possible.
Arbitration works a little like going to court, only with fewer complications and significantly lower costs. Again, a neutral third party (typically with extensive legal training) organises a discussion with the parties involved in the dispute. Everyone is given the opportunity to state their case and present their arguments, with the aim of reaching a mutually beneficial agreement.
The difference being that with arbitration, the arbitrator is brought in to make a decision that all parties involved agree to adhere to. It may be legally binding or simply advisory, but the arbitrator nonetheless determines the most appropriate way forward and provides a verdict accordingly.
Like mediation, arbitration can be significantly cheaper and less daunting than formal court proceedings. It can also be useful when initial mediation proceedings have failed to bring the matter to an amicable resolution. Rather than bringing the case before the courts, it can be beneficial for all parties involved to consider arbitration.
Of course, mediation and arbitration alike are valid options only when both parties agree to take part. If any party involved in the dispute refuses mediation or arbitration, it may be necessary to seek court involvement.
For more information on any aspect of mediation or arbitration, contact a member of the team at Aristone Solicitors today.
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