International Alternative Dispute Resolution
Our law firm provides international alternative dispute resolution services to its clients. In general, alternative dispute resolution (“ADR”) allows the parties to settle legal disputes outside of the court. International commercial organizations should explore this option as an alternative to litigation because it can be more efficient and practical. This process may be initiated by issuing a formal written request or demand to the interested parties. In most cases, the parties have entered into an agreement that includes an alternative dispute resolution provision. The provision can require the parties to engage in mediation or arbitration before initiating legal action in state or federal court. It can also pre-designate the governing law, venue, and jurisdiction for resolving legal disputes between the parties. However, in cases where there is no contractual provision, the parties can voluntarily stipulate to some kind of alternative dispute resolution procedure.
Mediation is a non-binding process so the parties are not legally obligated to comply with the mediator’s proposals. Arbitration is usually a binding process which obligates the parties to comply with the arbitrator’s judgment. It is important to include a dispute resolution provision in the contract before engaging in business transactions and address whether the neutral evaluator’s decision will be binding or nonbinding. There is a limited amount of circumstances that would allow the trial court to reverse the arbitrator’s judgment but the parties have the right to confirm or vacate the arbitration award by filing a motion or petition in the proper jurisdiction.
The process includes selecting the “neutral evaluator” who has a certain level of expertise in a legal area such as intellectual property, internet, technology, and corporate transactions. The selection process is usually a joint effort where the parties come up with a list of potential mediators or arbitrators. The parties are obligated to cooperate in choosing a qualified mediator or arbitrator who has no conflicts of interest. In other words, the neutral evaluator should not have a personal interest in the case or else should be recused for the lack of impartiality. The parties and their legal counsel should carefully review the neutral evaluator’s background, education, and expertise before finalizing the selection process.
Our law firm will provide a schedule to the parties which includes the location and time of the meetings. The parties should meet and confer to make sure the proposed schedule is practical for them. The parties are allowed to submit their documents which may include their pleadings, motions, briefs, and supplemental items to the neutral evaluator. Our law firm’s mediators will objectively review the file and hold meetings with the parties and their legal counsel and will propose the settlement terms. These meetings may be conducted in person or by virtual sessions. Our mediators hold the “virtual sessions” by using software programs such as Skype, Zoom, or WebEx. These sessions are privately conducted so unauthorized individuals are not allowed to attend unless they obtain authorization. The information and documents that are submitted to the neutral evaluator are considered confidential and will not be disclosed to the judge or jury. This includes the settlement agreement the parties review and sign to finalize the process. In addition, any kind of admission, compromise, or concession by one party cannot be introduced as evidence in a legal action.
The international rules and regulations related to alternative dispute resolution and e-commerce transactions have been addressed by several organizations. For example, the International Chamber of Commerce, American Arbitration Association, and World Intellectual Property Organization have addressed e-commerce transaction rules and regulations. They have also proposed online dispute resolution as a practical method for resolving disputes. Our law firm’s neutral evaluators have the necessary education and expertise in international laws and regulations. They will review, interpret, and apply the applicable international laws in order to resolve the dispute for the parties. They are familiar with the rules and procedures which can help reach a resolution. Our law firm’s international mediators and arbitrators are experienced in various areas of the law such as internet, technology, computers, cyberspace, intellectual properties (e.g., copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets), cloud computing, cybersecurity, digital currencies, digital privacy, e-commerce, and electronic discovery.