Unlike adjudication, mediation gives the neutral party no power to impose a decision. The mediator is a go-between who attempts to help the parties negotiate a solution. The mediator will communicate the parties’ positions to each other, will facilitate the finding of common ground, and will suggest outcomes. But the parties have complete control: they may ignore the recommendations of the mediator entirely, settle in their own way, find another mediator, agree to binding arbitration, go to court, or forget the whole thing!
Litigation is not the only way to resolve disputes. Informal negotiation between the disputants usually comes first, but both mediation and arbitration are available. Arbitration, though, is final and binding. Once you agree to arbitrate, you will have a final, binding arbitral award that is enforceable through the courts, and courts will almost never allow you to litigate after you have agreed to arbitrate.
- When Mrs. Robinson buys her Audi from Seaway, there is a paragraph in the bill of sale, which both the dealer and Mrs. Robinson sign, that says, “In the event of any complaint by customer/buyer against Seaway regarding the vehicle purchased herein, such complaint shall not be litigated, but may only be arbitrated under the rules of the American Arbitration Association and in accordance with New York law.” Mrs. Robinson did not see the provision, doesn’t like it, and wants to bring a lawsuit in Oklahoma against Seaway. What result?
- Hendrik Koster (Netherlands) contracts with Automark, Inc. (a US company based in Illinois) to supply Automark with a large quantity of valve cap gauges. He does, and Automark fails to pay. Koster thinks he is owed $66,000. There is no agreement to arbitrate or mediate. Can Koster make Automark mediate or arbitrate?
- Suppose that there is an agreement between Koster and Automark to arbitrate. It says, “The parties agree to arbitrate any dispute arising under this agreement in accordance with the laws of the Netherlands and under the auspices of the International Chamber of Commerce’s arbitration facility.” The International Chamber of Commerce has arbitration rules and will appoint an arbitrator or arbitral panel in the event the parties cannot agree on an arbitrator. The arbitration takes place in Geneva. Koster gets an arbitral award for $66,000 plus interest. Automark does not participate in any way. Will a court in Illinois enforce the arbitral award?