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Litigation v. Arbitration

Understanding the difference and which is right for your case

Litigation and arbitration are both terms used to settle legal disputes, but they’re different in that one is done in court, while the other is done privately. Choosing which route to take depends on your case, your desire for privacy, your time, and how much money you’re willing to spend on a lawsuit. Here, we’ll walk you through the specifics.

What Is Litigation?

Litigation is the term used to describe legal proceedings to defend or enforce a right. It is the act of bringing a lawsuit to court, not the lawsuit itself. So, if someone begins a civil lawsuit, they are entering the litigation process, but the lawsuit is not itself litigation. Litigation can be settled with an agreement between two opposing parties, though it is often settled by a judge or jury in court.

What Is Arbitration?

Arbitration is an alternative to filing a lawsuit. It’s a method of an independent person settling a dispute between two parties, rather than a jury or judge. The person settling the case is chosen by both parties and should be neutral. The main difference between arbitration and litigation is that arbitration doesn’t go to court.

Which Is Right for You?

Both litigation and arbitration can be used for a wide variety of disputes. Arbitration is best for private matters, is generally faster, can be done in a location decided by both parties, and usually has a low cost. Litigation is public, is usually done in court, can be lengthy, and costs more than arbitration.

If your dispute is minor, arbitration is probably your best option because of the low cost and ease of choosing the place and time yourself. It’s also good for cases where both parties are hoping to seek a settlement, or for confidential cases because it’s private.

In criminal cases though, or other instances where the stakes are high or settling is not appealing to at least one party, litigation is a better option. It should be noted that litigation is the only option in criminal cases, as arbitration is only for civil suits. Litigation is also useful if you think you might need an appeal. Litigants can appeal to a higher court if they don’t agree with the court’s decision, whereas in arbitration the decision made by the third party is final.

The bottom line is, if you think you can settle your dispute, you want to save money, and you’d prefer to keep things private, arbitration is the way to go. If it’s a bigger issue and you don’t want to settle, litigation is probably a better option. The lawyers at Anselmo Lindberg & Associates can walk you through both processes to help you make the best decision for your specific case.

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