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Court: Itís Bad Judgment - Part Two

Court: Itís Bad Judgment  -  Part Two

Arbitration, as I purported in my previous article, is the Judiciary process of the future. In its best form, it protects the reputations of both parties, preserves dignity, truly considers the individuals' needs or circumstances, and often, after resolution is reached, becomes a springboard toward rebuilding trust between you and the opposing party. In most cases, this happens in two or three sessions for less than the cost of the same number of dinner dates, depending of course upon where you like to eat.

In simple terms, arbitration is the process in which disagreeing parties share their gripe in a comfortable but formal setting to a conscientious third party, usually a hand-picked expert in a pertinent field, and defer to their expertise in creating a solution to your crisis.

The arbitrator's judgment can either be implemented by you and your adversary privately, or, if their involvement was ordered by a judge, it can substitute for the Judge's ruling and is considered legal and enforceable. This is called Binding Arbitration. Binding arbitration can also be utilized by your own volition prior to any court involvement by simply setting an appointment with a licensed arbitrator.

So, let's say you've called the Better Business Bureau or you've Googled "Arbitrators in Yourtown, USA" and youíve located an arbitrator whom you and your adversary both feel is nicely suited to help. Now what? Below are some guidelines you can use to help you achieve your high-minded goal of finding a creative solution to your particular impasse.

1) First and foremost, remember that arbitration is not designed to determine a winner but to determine a solution. This means that you and your adversary should be humane enough to want a courteous resolution, even if it means small compromises for each of you. If this is not possible then my best advice is, well, to get over yourself.

Verily I say unto you: If you are going into arbitration to win, be advised you will both lose, and you will end up in court anyway... at which point you sacrifice all the benefits I've outlined in these sacred passages.

2) Be human. When your arbitrator calls for an initial interview, or asks to meet you for a private hearing, don't be afraid to let her know your feelings on the matter. Be calm and poised, but express how certain aspects of the conflict have caused you grief or anger, and that you hope that reconciliation can be reached for the benefit of all the parties involved. A good arbitrator understands that behind every satisfactory solution is an acknowledgement of each person as a human being with human needs who deserves to be heard.

3) That said, take time before the initial interview to collect and organize your materials, documents, letters, and especially your opinions, so each can be presented clearly and efficiently when you are asked for such. Clarity, cooperation, and organization will do a lot to bolster your arbitrator's opinion of you, which can never be a bad thing. If you respect her time and energy as an arbitrator, she will feel inclined to do the same when she works on her solution.

4) As a specific addendum to the previous, make sure you can clearly enumerate the reasons why you feel your adversary's view on the matter is incorrect or unacceptable. Nothing makes one look more whiny and incapable than an emotionally driven parade of accusations.

5) Lastly, remember that the arbitrator, even one that may have been issued by the court, is there to help you. If you sense she indeed has expertise and is committed to devising a creative and effective solution to the crisis, let her. And by the same token, if you don't sense those things from her, it is entirely within your jurisdiction to request another arbitrator, even in the case of a court appointed person. It may even be a useful stipulation between you and your adversary that after the first hearing, you both must agree on the arbitrator or a motion for a new one will be made.

If it's not clear by now, I love the model of arbitration. It works for the individual and it works for society. These days I shudder at the number of lawsuits that surge through our court systems. And for every victor in those lawsuits there is a loser, and therein, a reinforced schism of I'm right and you're wrong. And yes, while justice must be done in cases of willful neglect or felonious acts, arbitration reminds us of the power of dialogue and diplomacy.

To me, these kinds of arbitrations also serve to remind us that at the end of the day, the only solution to the world's problems is us, as individuals, choosing to act together despite our opposing points of view.


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