If you’ve talked to a Kaiser malpractice lawyer recently or tried to bring a case against another big company, you might have run into the idea of arbitration. It is a dispute resolution process similar to regular trials that are often favored by companies over the regular court system as it provides a variety of advantages, including the following.
1. Relative simplicity
The arbitration process is similar to a regular trial, but it is generally much less formal. Yes, both parties will make opening statements and present evidence before an arbitrator, but federal and state rules of evidence won’t necessarily apply. Both parties get to agree on the rules of the procedure ahead of time, which allows for a much more simplified court dispute.
Choosing arbitration saves both parties from having to deal with the massive waiting periods and endless amounts of paperwork involved in dealing with regular courts, as well as doing away with the need for various types of motions and hearings. This results in a dispute resolution process that is both faster and less expensive.
Speed and simplicity are the main reasons why many companies determine that disputes raised by their customers must be resolved through binding arbitration in their terms of service, as is the case with the aforementioned Kaiser Permanente.
2. Quicker resolution
A fast process, of course, also means faster resolution. There’s no jury involved in an arbitration, just both parties and an impartial arbitrator, who’ll have the final say on the outcome of the dispute. This allows both parties to deal with their issues and go on with their lives sooner. The only downside is that it can be very hard to appeal or contest a decision made in binding arbitration, so both parties need to get it right on their first try.
It’s much easier to keep the dealings and the results of an arbitration private. This allows both parties to solve their issues without worrying about a media circus, and it allows businesses to solve the current dispute without worrying over whether or not their current actions will encourage other clients to sue them down the line. This also helps businesses keep sensitive information out of the public eye.
4. Impartial arbitrator
In theory judges and juries are supposed to be both rational and impartial. In practice getting the wrong judge can make a legal case much more difficult than it should have been, and even kill a case right away. Arbitration allows both parties to avoid this issue.
The arbitrator in charge of any given case has to be chosen and agreed upon by both parties, which makes it easier to ensure you’ll be dealing with someone fair, impartial, and knowledgeable. In theory, anyone with a pulse can be an arbitrator, but more often than not lawyers choose to have retired or former judges take on the role.
5. Flexible resolution
While the rulings and decisions made by an arbitrator can’t contradict the law, arbitrators have a lot more freedom when it comes to their decisions than a regular judge would. And due to the less formal nature of the hearing, they also can and often will make decisions based on evidence that might not have been accepted in a regular court. Thanks to this, arbitration has a bigger range of potential outcomes than a regular trial.
This is both a positive and a negative. On one hand, this greater range of freedom can allow for decisions that are fairer and more just than they would have otherwise been. On the other hand, this makes the outcome of an arbitration harder to predict, which can be uncomfortable for both parties.