We handle a wide variety of contract disputes; foreclosures, home remodels, business purchases, private loans and even settlement agreements where the terms are violated. The starting point is always the contract itself: was it signed by a person or an entity? Was it guaranteed by anyone else? Is there insurance available to satisfy the breach? Are any notices required to be given before, or as part of the demand? Does the other party have an opportunity to cure the breach (solve the problem) before a demand can be made? Bring us your contract to review and interpret so you can move forward toward resolution.
Not every dispute ends up in front of a judge. Most disputes, even those that lead to the filing of a lawsuit, are resolved without a court ruling on the dispute. Many people have heard the terms “arbitration” and “mediation” but are unclear about the differences.
"Arbitration" is the process of the parties presenting their evidence to an arbitrator who then makes a written decision. The setting is usually a conference room and the tone is less formal than a courtroom. Some arbitrators are retired judges, but many are attorneys with experience in the area of law at issue. Whether the dispute ends with the written decision of the arbitrator or continues with an appeal or trial de novo depends on the jurisdiction.
"Mediation" is a process of negotiation and, if successful, settlement; it is not a written decision or ruling. Some courts require the parties to go through the mediation process with a third party (mediator) assisting them before the court will hold a trial in the dispute. In other instances, it is the parties’ contract that requires mediation before proceeding to court or even arbitration.
The use of both arbitration and mediation have increased over the past decade as the cost of litigation has increased substantially. These other methods of dispute resolution are not only less expensive, but also quicker that going to trial. In large jurisdictions such as King County, the trial date is anywhere from 12-18 months from the date the lawsuit is filed. Many people cannot wait a year or more for their case to be resolved, so alternative methods of resolution are good options. However, there are some situations where the only practical solution is to obtain a ruling from the court. Let us help you find the right method of resolution for your dispute.