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Does business litigation in Tennessee always have to go to trial?

Business owners in Tennessee know that part of doing business is dealing with the inevitable ups and downs in the business world. Sometimes business is good. Demand for their goods or services is up, you're getting new clients or customers and the employees are happy. Other times, suppliers, manufacturers or builders fail to hold up their end of a contract or there is an issue with an employee that is not getting resolved. When this happens, it may lead to business litigation.

Most employers wish they could avoid business litigation all together. Litigation costs the business time and money that they'd rather spend running the business. However, not every dispute necessarily goes through the entire trial process. Sometimes the parties to the lawsuit are able to resolve their issues using a type of alternative dispute resolution process: arbitration.

Arbitration has many benefits. First, usually it takes much less time to resolve a dispute through arbitration, rather than litigation. The arbitration process takes eight months on average to complete. If the parties choose litigation, it takes three years on average just to make it to trial.

Arbitration also offers the benefit of privacy. Trials are conducted in public and are accessible to anyone. Arbitration is not open to the public.

Also, arbitration can save money. The trial process can drag on, costing more money. Also, while discovery must take place in a trial or arbitration, it is not as arduous and formal when the situation is arbitrated.

Arbitration allows the parties to have more control over the process and outcome than litigation. If a case goes to trial, a judge is randomly assigned to the case. In arbitration, the parties are able to choose the arbitrator.

Finally, if a case is litigated, the "losing" party has the right to appeal, which can take one year or more to resolve. In arbitration, the arbitrator's decision is usually not challenged and, even if it is, it is difficult to succeed on a challenge.

For all these reasons, many businesses prefer arbitration to litigation. However, each case is unique and what works for one case may not work for another. An attorney can help business owners facing litigation determine whether they should pursue arbitration or litigation.

Source: Knoxville News Sentinel, "Tillman: Arbitration is quicker, cheaper than court," Andy Tillman, June 7, 2017

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