Avoid court fees and solicitors costs by Arbitration – a legally binding way of settling personal or business disputes.
Soaring numbers of disputes and claims, involving both businesses and individuals, has led to extreme delays in the courts. Legal costs have also soared. Solicitors hourly rates are exorbitant and court fees too are continually on the increase. Basically the whole system is failing.
You are fortunate if you have never been involved in anything other than purchasing or selling your home or making a will. Most people, who have a legal problem, automatically go to a solicitor without considering arbitration, which can deal with nearly all claims and disputes of a civil as opposed to a criminal nature. Divorce can be dealt with by mediation.
So, if you have a problem with your builder, some defective goods or even a neighbour dispute, why not consider arbitration?
What are the advantages of arbitration over litigation?
Apart from the very limited form of arbitration in the “small claims” section of the County Courts system, which is held in private, all court cases are heard in public. Consequently, there could be bad or unnecessary publicity. Arbitration is completely private and is thus more conducive to the relationship, whether private or business, being resumed after the arbitrator has made his award. Another advantage is that instead of having to attend a court during working hours the arbitration can be held at any time and place convenient to the parties and their arbitrator.
One of the main advantages is the absence of undue delays, which have now reached extremes in the understaffed court system. With the increase in court work it may now take weeks to fix what might only be a five minute appointment months in advance. In arbitration the number of appointments prior to the hearing itself will usually only be one and the whole dispute can be decided in a fortnight! In fact if the parties co-operate – and they will have to do so by agreeing to arbitrate – their problem can be resolved in less than a week.
Informality is another great advantage that arbitration has over the courts. The arbitrator can avoid many of the stringent requirements of the laws of evidence and usual court procedures; he still has power to hear all the relevant evidence. One of the main complaints about our judicial system is that, unlike the systems in other countries, our system tends to be adversarial. This means that it is a contest between the parties or their lawyers and not an arrival at true justice by finding out the truth.
Although the parties are free to employ solicitors and/or barristers, this is not necessary because the arbitrator can and usually will assist the parties by acting inquisitorially rather than adversarially. In other words, instead of leaving it to the parties or their lawyers to ask the right questions, the arbitrator can ask the questions and tell the parties what he thinks the main points in issue are.
If you have not already been persuaded that arbitration is a better way to justice, consider the saving of money. Unless you do your own case, going to law will involve you in court fees, solicitors’ costs and possibly barristers’ fees. It will probably cost you about £2,000 in solicitors costs before you even arrive at the court door and you will be lucky if your day in court does not cost another £2,000. In the High Court you can double that quite easily. If you lose, you have to pay the other party’s legal costs. On the other hand, for the services of an arbitrator, each party will pay on average £1,000 and the winning party will get his contribution back from the losing party. In contrast the winning party in a court case rarely recoups all his legal costs, which are subject to scrutiny by way of a detailed court assessment.
Are there any disadvantages with arbitration?
Basically there are no disadvantages apart from not being able to get legal aid for it. An arbitrator’s award can be enforced like a judgment and it is appealable on a point of law. So next time you are unlucky enough to have a dispute, see if you can at least get the other party to agree to arbitration. This will avoid all the anxiety, aggravation and associated expense of going to law. If both parties agree on his appointment, the arbitrator can immediately hold his initial meeting, which is usually enough to encompass all the interlocutory stages in a court case. This itself will cut out months of waiting. The actual hearing can follow within days and the whole matter can be concluded fairly painlessly!