Resolving Disputes Quicker, Cheaper, and Better.
The essential purpose of the law is to resolve disputes in a predictable manner that does justice between the parties. Litigation is the most visible, but not the only, method for resolving such disputes.
Litigation is not the quick battle depicted in television court room dramas. The reality is that litigation can be a slow and expensive process. Cases tried in public court rooms can bring unwanted publicity to the parties. Moreover, cases tried to a jury are often decided by people who lack the expertise to readily understand the issues being litigated in more complex cases.
There are alternatives to traditional litigation, however, that can be quicker and more efficient. These procedures are known collectively as “alternative dispute resolution” or “ADR”. ADR can take several forms, including arbitration, mediation, and early neutral evaluation.
Arbitration is a relatively informal, confidential, process in which the parties agree to hire a neutral third party (the “arbitrator”) to hear evidence and make a decision that can either be binding, or non-binding, depending on the terms of the parties’ agreement. The arbitrator is often a respected expert in the field that is the subject of the dispute. This expertise can greatly reduce the amount of evidence and basic explanation that has to be presented in a case because the expert already understands the fundamentals of the issues in dispute. Arbitration is also designed to eliminate protracted discovery procedures that are often very costly.
Mediation involves hiring a neutral third party (the “mediator”) to help settle the case. But unlike arbitration, the mediator does not render a decision. Rather, the mediator works with the parties to create a voluntary settlement that both parties can agree to. The mediator is trained in conciliation techniques, and can often bring a fresh “outside” perspective to the settlement discussions. In addition, the mediation can offer creative solutions that are not possible in litigation.
Early neutral evaluation involves hiring a third party to hear abbreviated presentations and render a non-binding opinion on the relative merits of the parties’ respective cases. This gives the parties a taste of “reality therapy’ that could result in shortened discovery procedures or an earlier settlement.
Our goal at Guinness & Buehler is to help our clients achieve a satisfactory and cost-effective resolution of their disputes. Depending upon the case, one or more types of ADR may help to achieve this goal. Guinness & Buehler can help you to decide if ADR is right for your dispute or transaction. Even before a dispute develops, we can draft ADR agreements that are tailored to your needs.
Guinness & Buehler has experience in representing our clients in many arbitrations and mediations. Robert Guinness, a principal attorney with Guinness & Buehler, serves as an arbitrator on the Construction Panel for the highly regarded American Arbitration Association. He also serves as a civil mediator under Missouri Supreme Court Rule 17 and is on the mediator lists in St. Charles and Lincoln Counties. Mr. Guinness has also been appointed by the Court to serve as a Special Master to resolve key issues in court cases. Serving as the arbitrator, mediator, and special master in other parties’ cases, gives Mr. Guinness an insight that enables him to better represent his own clients when they enter arbitration or mediation.
Mr. Guinness is available to serve as an arbitrator, mediator, or special master to resolve disputes being handled by other attorneys.
© Guinness & Buehler, LLC 2007