the pleadings phase is basically where the parties put their cards on the table so to speak and define what their issues are about. The discovery phase is where the parties exchange and obtain information and take depositions to verify their claims and tell the other what their claims are based upon.Most commonly the third or conclusion phase is thought of as the trial, but before that can occur the parties must mediate and that can lead to a settlement. How do lawsuits commonly end Some of the ways that a lawsuit can end are direct settlement, settlement through mediation, or by procedural methods like summary judgment. Those can occur during the first two phases of the lawsuit but only a trial either in front of a judge or a jury occurs primarily in this third phase.
There are the unique situations where a case can be split in half or bifurcated and part of it tried earlier before additional discovery might be conducted. There are also variations on trials like summary trials but generally the trial occurs in the third and final phase. Settlement Nothing prevents a party in a lawsuit from settling their dispute directly with the other side or from suggesting a settlement to the other side at any time. Settlements can also be achieved through mediation with a qualified and trained mediator.Business lawsuits are fundamentally business disputes and are thus capable of being resolved by business people in a business-like fashion. Whether or when to suggest a settlement or mediation is a tactical decision that should be made in concert with your attorney. Also in any settlement agreement certain provisions should be addressed and accommodated which is where having an experienced attorney representing you becomes a tremendous benefit. Mediation Mediation is a private meeting between the parties either by their agreement or by court order with a mediator they choose. Florida was the pioneer in this area of alternative dispute resolution in the early 1990’s and now has some very accomplished and skilled mediators. Mediation can occur as many times as the parties desire by their agreement but it usually must occur at least one time before a judge will allow a case to proceed to trial. You and your lawyer should perform due diligence on any mediator that will assist you in solving the dispute to be sure you choose the right person for the job.
To read more on this please read my article specifically addressing mediation. Binding vs. Non-Binding Arbitration Arbitration can exist as an independent option where parties agree in a contract to resolve certain disputes in arbitration instead of in court. But it can also be used within a lawsuit and can be binding or non-binding and can be by agreement or ordered by the Judge. A judge however may only order non-binding arbitration. Binding arbitration is exactly as it sounds. A decision entered in that kind of arbitration is final and binding on the parties subject to it. There are no appeals of arbitration awards like the appeal of a judgment from a trial court to an appellate court but they are subject to review by a trial court if the arbitration awardee seeks to have the court conform the award into a final judgment. In that process, the court can determine if the arbitrator was biased or the losing party was deprived due process.Generally the allegation that the arbitrator misapplied the law or made a bad decision is not grounds for attacking or challenging an arbitration award. So while there is no independent appellate body that oversees arbitrators there is a limited review of the process to ensure fairness.In contrast, non-binding arbitration is also just as it sounds; the ruling or award is not binding on the parties and the losing party is free to reject it. Thus non-binding arbitration as a process for resolving business disputes rests somewhere between the informality of mediation and the formality of a trial because a party can reject the decision and take their case to trial. Logic leads one to the inquiry of what benefit non-binding arbitration provides if the case can still go to trial. national family mediation