ADR Specialists (Arbitrator & Mediator)

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As puzzling as it may seem, sometimes the law does not want people to end up in a court of law. The considerable expenses and time associated with court proceedings underscore the importance of resolving legal disputes outside of the courtroom. In reality, many cases are settled without ever reaching trial. This underscores the significance of arbitration and mediation, which serve as alternative methods of dispute resolution.

What is Arbitration?

In the realm of commercial disputes, arbitration serves as a primary form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR).

Arbitrators play a vital role in resolving cases, including employment, divorces or real estate disputes, outside of traditional court proceedings. Instead of facing a judge or jury, clients bring their concerns before an arbitrator, who makes decisions on behalf of both parties.

Arbitrators often specialise in specific legal domains, leveraging their advanced knowledge and experience in areas such as construction, labor relations, accounting, or insurance. This swift resolution allows business operations to resume promptly and maintains a more amicable tone, preserving potential future relationships.

However, navigating arbitration can be complex, especially in international contexts where differing territories have distinct arbitration laws, leading to disputes over applicable jurisdiction. The decision to pursue arbitration may be voluntary or mandatory, and is typically outlined in the contract being negotiated.

What is Mediation?

Mediation is commonly utilised in civil disputes, involving a neutral third party or panel negotiating a settlement. Unlike arbitration, mediation is not compulsory and aims to find a middle ground between disputing parties. It's also prevalent in diplomatic settings, where neutral countries facilitate negotiations between conflicting nations.

A professional mediator is a trained specialist who manages negotiations between two disputing parties to de-escalate conflicts and ensure fair discussion. Mediators usually specialise in a particular type of dispute or discussion area to offer expertise and facilitate a mutually beneficial solution. They guide people through discussion and legal processes to ensure they follow appropriate procedures.

Diplomacy, tact, and decisiveness are essential traits for success in both roles.

What does an Arbitrator do?

Your responsibilities may vary depending on your specialisation, but typically, you'll perform the following duties:

  • Consult with each party involved in a dispute to gain a thorough understanding of the case and explain the arbitration process.
  • Foster collaborative communication between both parties to facilitate constructive dialogue.
  • Determine liability according to relevant legal standards and assess obligations between parties.
  • Conduct research on laws and policies to inform case outcomes.
  • Interview witnesses to gather pertinent information.
  • Evaluate information gathered from documents, such as claim applications.
  • Interpret and apply applicable laws based on arguments and evidence presented by both sides.
  • Draft settlement agreements and obtain signatures from each party involved.
  • Facilitate ongoing communication between parties after reaching an agreement.
  • Prepare decision statements and compile evidence in case the dispute proceeds to court.

What does a Mediator do?

As a mediator, you undertake various legal and administrative responsibilities to facilitate discussions between your clients. Here are some primary duties you'll handle:

  •  Schedule, administer, and document meetings with each party to address issues, understand each party's interests, and develop conflict resolution strategies.
  • Communicate with witnesses to gather evidence and testimonies relevant to the dispute.
  • Gather data from extensive documentation, such as business archives, to support arguments and inform discussions.
  • Facilitate the secure and fair exchange of information by transferring documents and communications between parties.
  • Draft and revise agreements for parties to review during legal proceedings. These agreements, often referred to as 'memoranda of understanding,' are typically non-binding and serve as informal guidelines or references for subsequent binding agreements.

What are some essential skills for these roles?

Here are some key skills for mediators and arbitrators:

  • Negotiating: You'll resolve situations by seeking areas of compromise between opposing parties for mutual benefit. Your negotiation skills will be crucial in persuading contentious parties to agree to concessions, facilitating progress in stalled cases.
  • Patience and critical thinking: These are essential traits for effective arbitrators and mediators, aiding in negotiating fair settlements and minimising misunderstandings between emotional parties.
  • Conflict resolution: Given that mediation and arbitration often involves emotionally charged matters, you'll need skills to de-escalate tense situations and manage conflicts effectively. This ensures the safety of all parties involved and allows discussions to proceed smoothly.
  • Building trust: Building trust with your clients is vital for maintaining impartiality and offering guidance that fosters communication and negotiation. Your ability to remain impartial while assisting each party will impact their trust in you and their willingness to compromise.
  • Active listening: By actively listening to both parties during meetings, you'll gain a comprehensive understanding of each side of the case. Expert communication relies on your ability to listen, comprehend, and act on the information provided.
  • Legal writing: You'll need legal writing skills to analyse case facts and present written arguments concisely. Arbitrators and mediators often use these abilities to create accurate settlement documents.

What is my pathway?

You would typically begin by obtaining a qualifying law degree. While pursuing undergraduate studies, participating in extracurricular activities such as debate clubs, mooting societies or taking on leadership positions can help you develop relevant fundamental skills.

Upon graduating, you have various options to qualify as a practicing lawyer. One pathway is to pursue the UK Bar, a professional qualification that enables you to practice as a barrister in the United Kingdom. Alternatively, you may opt for the Malaysian Certificate in Legal Practice, which qualifies you to practice law in Malaysia.

Your next step would be to pursue a Professional Diploma in International Arbitration - a comprehensive and practical course designed specifically for practicing and aspiring arbitrators. This programme offers a fast-track approach, providing you with a solid foundation in arbitration's fundamental principles, followed by a focus on real-world applications through case studies.

If you would like to know more about how Law can be the right programme for you, click here.

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Did You Know?

Here are a few more obsolete laws that are still in existence:

  • Women in Ohio, USA are prohibited from wearing patent leather shoes because a man might see her undergarments reflected in them.
  • The head of a dead whale that is found on the British coast is the property of the King. The tail, however, is the property of the Queen. This is so she can use the bones for her corset.