July 18, 2011
The gap between litigation and arbitration is constantly narrowing. "There has been a kind of merger in the process, so there's no longer that much to choose between litigation and arbitration," says John B. Laskin. "People now realize ... that some of the asserted advantages of arbitration were not real or at least a bit overblown."
"In many cases, arbitration is not cheaper and not quicker," John says. "One reason is that the people we hire as arbitrators tend to have other things to do, and in cases involving three-member panels, scheduling is a nightmare that can really slow things down. Also, the discovery process can be much the same as in court, because when it comes down to it, counsel are reluctant to give up the knowledge that comes with discovery."
What arbitration does do, however, is ensure confidentiality, which is a very limited commodity in the courts. "Confidentiality can be important in a variety of settings, particularly when the parties have a relationship and want to keep its terms confidential," John says.
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