How To Lower Legal Costs On Contract Disputes


By Rollyn H. Samp

The high cost of litigation is prominently discussed in the news.  But solutions are seldom offered.

Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) is growing in popularity.

  “Mediation” is a voluntary form of dispute resolution.  A skilled mediator works with both sides attempting to reach a solution.  The most recent example of a mediated settlement was the NFL/players contract dispute. 

Mediation is mandatory in most federal court cases before the parties can proceed to trial.  Many states are implementing mediation presently in family law to resolve property and child support issues.

“Arbitration” is another dispute resolution option.  A neutral party (usually attorney skilled in arbitration or a retired judge) agrees to hear the dispute and then rule on the issues/damages.  Federal and state law allows arbitration awards to be turned into judgments.

Arbitration and mediation are written into contracts or agreed to by the parties.  A popular trend is for “loser pay” clauses where the loser has to pay all costs, expenses and the other party’s attorney fees plus the Award.  This clause is great encouragement for people to settle disputes by negotiation before any legal action.

Because ADR is cheaper, quicker and generally confidential, it offers an alternative to the high cost of going to court.

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