Med-Arbitration, or Med-Arb, is a hybrid dispute resolution process that is neither a mediation, nor an arbitration. While it contains elements of each, it is a continuous resolution process which has its own unique character and combines the primary aspects of both mediation and arbitration processes together.
The parties must enter into a Med-Arb agreement to retain a neutral third-party, known as a med-arbitrator. They must also understand that in helping them reach an agreement regarding their disputed issues, this process allows Arlene as the med-arbitrator to make binding decisions if resolutions cannot be reached during the mediation portion of the med-arb process.
If after a period of time in mediation the parties are at an impasse or, even more likely, have settled many of their disputed issues leaving some issues unresolved, then the mediation portion of the med-arb process is concluded. Then Arlene, or in some instances a new arbitrator, will then transition the parties into the arbitration portion of the med-arb process — and an arbitration hearing, guided by the principles of natural justice, is held with respect to the parties’ remaining unresolved issues. Once the hearing is concluded the Arlene issues a final and binding award within a specified time, resolving all of the remaining issues in dispute between the parties.
This process usually results in parties being more open to reaching a consensual settlement during the mediation portion before a decision in the arbitration portion is even needed. The success of the mediation portion relies heavily on both parties having full confidence in the med-arbitrator and in her ability to disabuse herself of information she may have heard during separate meetings with each party when she is later called upon to adjudicate the unresolved issues within the arbitration portion of the process. Med-arbitrators in BC and ON report that 85% to 90% of their med-arb files fully settle during the mediation portion of the med-arb process.
Major benefits of the med-arb process:
- following the conclusion of the mediation portion, the arbitration portion will only need to deal with the few unresolved issues, if any.
- significant cost savings.
- personal satisfaction felt by the parties in playing a hand in crafting their own settlement.