Arbitration/Mediation, often referred to as Arb-Med (its similar counterpart is Med-Arb), is a hybrid form of arbitration/mediation in which the neutral initially conducts an arbitration hearing process. At the close of the arbitration and prior to submitting a decision (Award), the neutral assumes the role of a mediator and works with both parties in an attempt to resolve the dispute. In the event of the failure of mediation, the neutral once again reassumes the role of an arbitrator and imposes a binding decision.
The essence of Arb-Med is to first allow the arbitration process to be completed. At the close of the arbitration process, the neutral changes roles and assumes responsibility as a mediator to coach or encourage the parties towards settlement taking into account the information received throughout the arbitration process. In the event of the failure of mediation, the neutral reassumes the role of an arbitrator and imposes a binding decision.
Although there are many advantages to this process as a vehicle to legitimately serve the needs of the parties, the Arbitrator/Mediator requires substantial training and expertise in both dispute resolution processes. In addition, attorneys and clients will wish to carefully examining the advantages of this process prior to finalizing the Arb-Med agreement.
The advantages of this process are:
- Following the arbitration hearing, the parties are given the opportunity to try to resolve the dispute themselves. Should they not be able to do so, they know that they will have a quick decision and analogy dispute in a relatively short time frame.
- The parties are aware that should they not work hard to come to a mutually agreeable settlement, there is the threat of an adverse decision by the arbitrator.
- Because the process is completed in one setting, the parties can save both time and money.
- The Award issued in the arbitration process can quickly be converted into a court order. An agreement through the mediation process is enforceable as a legal contract. If time is of the essence and the parties have relatively equal bargaining power, this process may prove to be highly desirable.