Contract disputes are often best resolved through alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods, and construction disputes are no exception. The two most common ADR methods are mediation and arbitration, the latter of which is often considered to be the happy medium between informal mediation and often-costly litigation.

Greater Control of Intermediary

Arbitration shares features of mediation and litigation. Arbitration is similar to mediation because the two disputing parties have some control over who eventually occupies the position of arbitrator. Sometimes, a panel of arbitrators will function as the intermediary in an arbitration.

Parties will often choose an arbitrator or arbitration panel from the American Arbitration Association (AAA), which prescribes unique procedures for construction disputes that are better suited for the industry. Accordingly, arbitration offers parties an opportunity to select an arbitrator who is actually knowledgeable about their specific industries. In litigation, you risk being assigned a judge who is not familiar with the construction industry, its common types of disputes, or best practices.

Customizable Discovery and Preliminary Procedures

In contrast to the relatively rigid procedures in civil court, parties in arbitration may choose to forego certain customs in favor of an expedited timeline and lower costs. For instance, upon the approval of both parties, an arbitration might disallow live witness statements in front of the arbitrator and instead rely on document exchanges. Or, you might want to keep as many formalities as possible so your arbitration process more closely resembles litigation. The money at stake in your dispute will likely play a large part in these decisions.

The Hearing

Both parties will go before the arbitrator or arbitration panel and present their side. Again, the extent to which each party will be able to question the other side and present certain types of evidence might be limited by a prior agreement. The hearing date will be agreed upon by both parties, another advantage over litigation.

One often-misunderstood part of arbitration? The decision reached by the arbitrator or arbitration panel is legally binding and generally not eligible for appeal except in special circumstances. This can save time and money by preventing appeals, which are typically available in litigation. Another feature of arbitration is that the process remains private. Litigation is usually a matter of public record.

Look Over Your Contract

Mandatory arbitration clauses are increasingly used in construction contracts. Many parties who end up in a dispute are surprised to learn they are required to resolve things in arbitration. Arbitration is not always better than litigation, especially when an especially large sum of money is at stake.Whether your construction dispute is to be resolved via litigation or arbitration, an experienced Florida construction attorney is critical. Our team has deep experience representing clients in a wide variety of construction and real estate matters. We would be more than happy to evaluate your situation and work with you to put your legal issues behind you.