Mediation vs. Arbitration Provisions in a Contract

April 6, 2023

Related PeopleJeffrey M. Heller

Practice AreasCorporate

All provisions of a contract are relevant, no matter how innocuous they appear to be and no matter how many times you are told that they are “just boilerplate.” Mediation and arbitration provisions often are deemed to fall in the “boilerplate” category, but the impact of these provisions cannot be understated.

Taking a step back, in the event of a dispute between contract counterparties, the underlying contract often provides an avenue for resolution of such dispute, which may require that the parties pursue such matter in court, through arbitration or by other means, including mediation. While most parties are familiar with the concept of litigation, the differences between mediation and arbitration are less well-known. Among the many relevant factors distinguishing between mediation and arbitration, the following three factors should be considered:

  1. Mediation in the United States is non-binding, meaning that a party is not obligated to follow the determination of a mediator. Arbitration, on the other hand, may be binding.
  2. From a timing standpoint, the mediation process is more expeditious, often being completed anywhere from one to three months after the process is initiated, depending upon the complexity of the issues and the parties’ agreements. Arbitration proceedings often last as long as a lawsuit with a formal discovery process and other formalities that commonly would be part of a lawsuit.
  3. From a cost perspective, mediation is more economical, largely due to the speed of the process and less legal formalities. This generally bodes well for the parties if they agree to abide by the determination of the mediator or view such decision as indicative of how an arbitrator or judge ultimately would rule on a matter. But since mediation is non-binding, parties may view this process as an unnecessary delay and waste of resources.

If you are interested in learning more about this subject, please reach out to one of Chuhak & Tecson’s many talented and experienced corporate attorneys.

Client alert authored by Jeffrey Heller (312 855 4605), principal.

This Chuhak & Tecson, P.C. communication is intended only to provide information regarding developments in the law and information of general interest. It is not intended to constitute advice regarding legal problems and should not be relied upon as such.