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Mediation is the coordinated negotiation of a dispute, conducted by an experienced mediator who works with all parties involved to identify the issues and assist the parties reach a resolution that satisfies their respective interests and concerns. The neutral mediator is able to communicate openly with the parties through a confidential process whereby the parties participate in private discussions to resolve the conflict. The mediator helps each side understand both the strengths and weaknesses of a case. An effective mediator presents those strengths and weaknesses in a balanced manner for appreciation by all parties to the dispute. Unlike a court trial, mediation offers flexibility to fashion a unique solution to each case. Confidentiality encourages openness and candor, which ultimately leads to improved communication and sharing of divergent perceptions. Mediation can be modeled to the needs of each case, reducing tension and increasing the satisfaction of the parties with the process and with the ultimate outcome.
Arbitration provides a legal forum for the resolution of disputes that may be held outside the court system. The parties to a dispute refer it to one or more persons (the “arbitrators”, “arbiters” or “arbitral tribunal”), by whose decision (the “award”) they agree to be bound. Unlike mediation, the third-party arbitrator has the power to make a decision. Arbitration differs from trial, however, as the parties may select an arbitrator of their own choosing and the rules of evidence and appeal may not apply as they do when a matter is decided by trial. Arbitration may be managed directly by the parties under a contract or by informal agreement. Arbitrations can also be more cost-effective than trial and provide a resolution to the dispute in a more timely manner. Mr. Yates offers his services as a binding arbitrator in first party and third party litigation matters.
Early neutral evaluation occurs when one or more of the parties in a dispute seeks an outside authority for an opinion about their case. The evaluator will present a non-binding analysis of the case or address individual issues such as liability, damages or other matters. An evaluator’s perspective can help those in the dispute reach an agreement or lead to further negotiations between the sides. Although the evaluation can be used at any time in a dispute, it tends to be most useful at an early stage, before litigation is underway, providing a “reality check” for the parties without the formality of an arbitration or settlement conference. In neutral evaluation, each party makes a written or oral presentation to the neutral, who then offers an evaluation of the dispute, not a decision. The evaluator may provide a confidential written opinion about the strengths and weaknesses of each party’s position. When the case is evaluated, issues of fact and law are identified and discussed, and the theories of each side can be addressed and examined by the neutral. It is a useful tool in helping attorneys predict how a judge or jury will decide certain issues, or the case as a whole and allows the parties and their attorneys to consider the risks and expenses of moving forward into protracted litigation with the benefit of an independent review.
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