There are two common alternatives to starting a lawsuit when people want to resolve a disagreement: mediation and arbitration.
Mediation is a procedure where the goal of the parties involved is to reach an agreement. Mediation allows an outside mediator to facilitate the discussions, but any final decisions and agreements are made by the parties themselves. Mediation is a practical solution where the parties are in the best position of solving the problem and where they are willing to work together to a reach an agreement. Mediation works well when the parties want a common outcome, such as in completion of an original contract, where there may only be discrepancies as to the terms of the contract.
Mediation is less expensive than both arbitration and the more lengthy traditional litigation process. It is also faster than going to court. With mediation, the parties have an opportunity to solve their own problems which means that they are both more likely to be happy with the outcome.
Unlike mediation, where the parties reach an agreement, with arbitration, the arbitrator makes the final decision in a similar manner as a judge would in a traditional court case. Arbitration requires that the parties involved in the dispute agree to have their problems resolved by a third party called an arbitrator. Because arbitration is less expensive and faster than going to court, many agreements provide that the parties must submit their problems to arbitration and that the arbitrator's decision shall be final.
Finding a mediator or arbitrator
For further information, or if you have a problem that you and the other party wish to resolve through mediation or arbitration, you can visit the Law Society of Upper Canada for a directory of lawyers and paralegals who practice dispute resolution, or contact the ADR Institute of Ontario Inc. .
For more information about alternatives to suing, visit the Arbitration and Mediation section of this website. For legal advice, contact a lawyer.