In an effort to obtain the most prompt, equitable, and cost effective resolution of a claim against our clients, the attorneys at GLPC routinely recommend, where appropriate, attempting to resolve the matter through face-to-face negotiations with counsel representing each party, non-binding mediation, or arbitration. Benefits to Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) include:
a) The Proceedings are Non-Binding - Unless agreed otherwise, the mediation is non-binding which means that either party may walk out of the proceedings at any time and the opinion of the mediator, to the extent one is offered, does not bind the parties;
b) Fact Finding Mechanism/Shared Cost - Whether or not the mediation is ultimately successful, the mediation process assists the client and GLPC in obtaining further information regarding liability and damage claims or, as the case may be, lack thereof, prior to proceeding to trial if necessary. Notably, the mediator’s fee is generally split equally among the parties;
c) Cost Efficient - Since mediation can occur at any stage of the litigation, in the event the parties are diligent at the outset the mediation may take place early on resulting in a savings to the parties of the time and expense associated with litigating the matter to trial;
d) Knowledgeable Mediator - The benefit of proceeding with non-binding mediation is that the matter will be presented to an individual, in most instances an attorney, who is well versed and more knowledgeable about the subject areas than most judges and juries;
e) Getting Your “Day in Court” - During mediation, clients are often provided an opportunity to present their position directly to both the mediator and the opposing side. Proceeding in this manner allows the party to explain and defend its position and assist the mediator in fully understanding its position for purposes of aiding in the resolution of the matter in the most equitable manner; and
f) Mediation Credit - Many professional liability insurance policies provide for a mediation credit as an incentive to attempt to resolve the matter through mediation, if appropriate, rather than proceed through litigation to trial. The credit usually takes the form of a discount on the insured’s deductible.
In addition to mediation, the attorneys at GLPC also participate in arbitrations as another form of ADR. As with mediation, arbitration is presided over by one or more individuals well versed in the subject area and often takes less time than a trial. The arbitration proceeding is more formal than mediation, requiring the presentation of witness testimony and introduction of evidence, but less formal than a trial involving specific rules of evidence. However, with limited exception, the final decision of an arbitrator is binding and appeals are not an option to either party as they may be following a trial.
Avoiding the time, expense, and uncertainty associated with protracted litigation and trial, where liability exposure may admittedly exist on behalf of our client, are the primary reasons GLPC often recommends ADR at the earliest possible juncture in a pre-claim, claim, or litigation. Even where liability exposure of GLPC’s client may not be clearly evident, ADR may still prove to be the preferred course of action from a pure 'business decision’ standpoint.