Arbitration Is a Real Means of Dispute Resolution.
Avoid the Monetary and Emotional Cost of Traditional Litigation
By Irving S. Capitel, Esq.
BBB Alternative Resolution Division
Arbitration will save you time, money, aggravation and emotional stress. Arbitration is a system used to resolve disputes that would otherwise wind up in a lawsuit. Lawsuits are generally recognized as expensive, difficult, burdensome and time-consuming ordeals.
Whether you are a plaintiff or defendant, arbitration can be a benefit to you in dispute resolution. Ultimately, there's a winner and a loser in a lawsuit. Why not sooner than later? Lawsuits can often take many months or even years. BBB Arbitrations are usually done in less than 60 days.
There is a growing trend to use arbitration to resolve business and personal disputes. This trend comes on the heels of rising litigation costs and escalating emotional expenditure for anyone involved in a dispute submitted to traditional litigation.
Truth has always been the end goal of any litigation. Over the last 30 years in particular, truth has been progressively more difficult to find in the courts. Lawyers' fees have increased, time to resolve disputes has increased, the litigation discovery process has increased to the point of warfare mentality, attitudes of lawyer toward lawyer have disintegrated to the extent that courts have had to issue written directions to its "officers", the lawyers, to be civil, courteous, follow the rules and don't misuse the legal process, which is a constitutionally protected benefit of our society.
Currently the most utilized method of resolving debt collection, "back fence" disputes, business arguments, breaches of contract, auto accident claims, auto purchase, builder and workman disputes is to seek out a lawyer. You tell a lawyer your problem and, generally after agreement on fee and answering client's questions, the lawyer usually recommends a suit be filed. There are attorneys who may recommend other activities to accomplish settlement of a client's problem prior to suit, but in the majority of cases either the client is discouraged from proceeding or authorizes suit. Authorization of the suit begins the ordeal. This is by no means an effort to comment on lawyers but it is a commentary of how our culture works in this area.
Involvement in modern day civil lawsuits is an activity to be avoided by the business community and the general public at large, if possible. It saps the strength, energy and finances of every party. It doesn't often make friends of the lawyer and client, either. It does behoove, however, lawyers and clients alike to know about and understand other ways to resolve disputes. Arbitration is such a vehicle and lawyers can utilize it to the benefit of their client, while still protecting them. It is a very effective tool!
The Illinois Arbitration Act provides that parties can choose by contract to resolve their disputes in a binding manner. Parties may apply to a private arbitration system and agree to have a hearing that will either bind the parties to the arbitration decision or they may reserve the right to reject the arbitration award. This arbitration system is an informal hearing where all relevant documents and evidence are submitted by a simplified, abbreviated process and each party, by testimony under oath, tells the arbitrator what is that party's side of the case. Since all of the cases submitted to arbitration involve only money, the arbitrator can evaluate the testimony and the evidence including credibility of witnesses and make a finding as to which party is entitled to how much of an award within the amounts of the arbitration jurisdiction, as agreed by the parties. There is no dilution of the remedies of any party.
Business entities and people individually must be made aware of how this system would work to their mutual advantage. If there is an acceptance of this process on a general basis not only would all parties benefit, but also any strain on our Court system could be relieved. When that is done, people could resolve their business and personal disputes quickly and economically.
BBB Arbitrators will be trained lawyers and non-lawyers alike; depending on the classification of the case. They objectively and dispassionately hear each side of a dispute and render a decision fairly and quickly. This would actually give the general public its "day in court" without all the trappings and costs of formal litigation. So, if you are unfortunate enough to have a dispute, submit these disputes to arbitration for resolution. The BBB has the forum to assist all parties fairly, reasonably and in an unbiased environment.
Arbitration is referred to as an alternative dispute resolution system. It should, however, be thought of as a system to resolve disputes, a separate and independent means allowing parties to air their issues, resolve them and go on with their regular lives in the shortest possible time. It should not be thought of as an alternative but should be sought as the means of resolution.