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Sometimes you are not sure whether to use mediation or arbitration to resolve your conflict.  Mediation offers the possibility of negotiating a collaborative settlement, but you are worried the process could end in an impasse.  Arbitration guarantees a resolution to the dispute, but it wouldn't give you as much control in the ultimate outcome.  You think your dispute would benefit from the best of both worlds.  

This is where a hybrid mediation-arbitration process can help.  Commonly referred to as med-arb, the hybrid process combines the benefits of both techniques.  The parties to the dispute first participate in mediation with a qualified mediator and attempt to come to a collaborative agreement to resolve their issues.  If the mediation ends without settlement of some or all of the issues, the neutral facilitator then assumes the role of arbitrator and commences that process.  After having all the necessary information, the arbitrator can rule on any remaining issues, or on the whole dispute if the parties were unable to come to a settlement on any part of the matter.  

Med-arb can be especially effective if the matter is time-sensitive, particularly when the parties use the same neutral party in both roles.  If you use the same person as mediator and arbitrator, you save time and money by eliminating the need to start arbitration from square one if the mediation does not result in a total settlement.  Often much of the same information that is used in the mediation can be used in the arbitration, saving time and effort for both the arbitrator and the parties.  


Med-arb provides the best of all worlds in alternative dispute resolution, and can offer the most flexible approach to getting from dispute to resolution.   


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