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A plaintiff is considering mediation or arbitration as an alternative to civil litigation, but he is concerned that "justice may not be served" if he submits to a method of alternative dispute resolution. Are his concerns justified? Is justice better guaranteed if the parties litigate their case? Is mediation or arbitration actually preferable to civil litigation? Regardless of what disputing parties prefer, should court systems require that plaintiffs and defendants to submit to arbitration or meditation before being entitled to their "day in court?"

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This assignment is generally asking you to consider the benefits and disadvantages of mediation compared to a civil lawsuit.

Generally speaking, mediation provides faster resolution and costs less money than civil litigation. It also fosters cooperation between parties to reach a solution, which is seemingly a suitable outcome for everyone involved. Mediation is more flexible, not dependent on court calendars or judges' obligations. Mediators and arbitrators often meet with clients in the evenings and on weekends, if needed. Additionally, mediation and arbitration proceedings are typically private, which spares both parties potentially negative publicity.

But arbitration and mediation aren't always the best path to resolution. Sometimes one party is hostile or impossible to reason with. People also worry that mediators or arbitrators will side with the party who has significantly more money or influence. There is also the possibility that the involved parties will not reach any agreement and will wind up in court, which means the time and money invested into the mediation process has proven fruitless. It may also be more difficult to ascertain the truth in a dispute between parties since mediators have limited tools to investigate the claims of either party.

It would be difficult to make a blanket statement that mediation is better than litigation. The nature of the case, the personalities and values of each party involved, the willingness of both parties to cooperate, and the nature of the injustice all dictate varied means of legal intervention. Certainly mediation has its place as a means of justice, but requiring all legal claims to first go through a period of mediation would likely be counterproductive. Those who are not interested in an active process of listening and cooperating will likely resist any attempt to bring fair resolution to a dispute. Additionally, forcing hostile parties to meet under such circumstances may only increase their animosity. Mediation assumes that a resolution can be achieved because the parties involved are reasonable, civil, and fairly honest—and certainly not every dispute involves people who embody these qualities.

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