One of the most common ways that businesses resolve disputes is through arbitration. Arbitration is one of a few alternatives to litigation that can ultimately save parties time, money and resources.
However, it can be a confusing and complicated system to navigate if you have never been involved in a business dispute before. If you are considering arbitration as a means of resolving a conflict with partners, clients or employees, then it can be helpful to have a general idea of what you can expect from the arbitration process in Wisconsin.
Less formal than litigation, more formal than mediation
To begin with, arbitration takes place outside of a court room and in a mutually agreed upon location, like a conference room. Further, arbitration typically involves less discovery than a courtroom trial. This streamlines evidence collection, minimizes disputes and cuts down on paperwork, all of which are elements that complicate and drag out litigated claims.
However, you will still be in a formal setting, presenting your case to a third party, which is different from less formal options like mediation. You will also still be allowed to call witnesses, present evidence and make arguments in support of your position during arbitration.
You will not be presenting your case to a judge or jury. Instead, you will make your case in front of either a single arbitrator or a panel of three arbitrators. The exact arrangement should be specified in an arbitration agreement.
There is no exact timeline for arbitration. The discovery element can take months; the actual arbitration may only take a day or two. Generally, though, complicated cases involving numerous witnesses will take longer than the more straightforward cases. In either situation, the decision should be made within the timeline set in the rules.
Your legal rights in arbitration
As is the case with any form of business dispute resolution, you have the right to have an attorney by your side throughout the arbitration process. With legal guidance, you can avoid costly missteps and be confident that your case will be resolved fairly and in accordance with the law.