How Can I Settle a Lawsuit Out of Court?

That question, unfortunately, is next-to-impossible to answer — even for an attorney — without knowing the numerous particulars of your case, including the amount of money at stake and the reasons for the conflict. Litigation is generally regarded as the last resort when trying to resolve a legal dispute, but it can be a good last resort if you have a problem that you can’t resolve any other way.

Some common alternatives to litigation are mediation and arbitration. Compared to these two alternatives, litigation is almost always more expensive, stressful, and costly, so it is often the case that parties will explore one or both of these options first in hopes of resolving their differences as quickly and cheaply as possible.

What is Mediation? 

Mediation involves meeting with a neutral third party, who may be another attorney or retired judge. The mediator is tasked with hearing each side of the legal dispute and attempting to negotiate a compromise that all of the involved parties can accept. This process is informal, flexible, and confidential, so it is often a good path to dispute resolution that gives the affected parties more control over the outcome than they might get in court. That said, mediators lack the ability to compel the production of testimony or evidence and are limited in what they can do to ensure a fair result. If the parties can’t be brought to an agreement, then other dispute resolution measures will need to be deployed.

What is Arbitration? 

Like mediation, arbitration features a neutral third party who comes up with a compromise after hearing each side. Unlike mediation, though, the decision of the arbitrator is often legally binding. Additionally, both parties may be required to limit the dispute to arbitration, meaning that mediation and litigation cannot be used to resolve the conflict. This limitation is either stipulated in the dispute resolution section of a contract, or it might be required by law. (For example, some commercial disputes associated with a monetary value under a particular threshold will be directed to an arbitrator.)  

Informal Negotiation

While mediation and arbitration can both be effective at resolving disputes, there’s nothing to stop you from engaging in old-fashioned negotiation with the other party. Sometimes, the mere threat of a lawsuit (or “lawyering-up”) can prompt the other side to get serious about reaching a compromise. No one wants to take on the significant expense of litigation, and facing that possibility is often good motivation for both sides to reach an agreement that might have proven elusive otherwise.

Our firm has helped countless business owners resolve commercial disputes through every legal avenue there is. We would be happy to sit down with you, learn your situation, and recommend a course of action. Call Integrated General Counsel at (925) 399-1529 to set up your consultation today.