Mediation and arbitration can be effective methods for resolving disputes without the burdens of traditional litigation. While engaging in full litigation practices, our mediators understand the benefits and risks of trial. They use their intimate knowledge of the court system to help parties work towards a resolution by offering a neutral, third-party analysis of the pending claims. Our attorneys bring years of experience to representing clients in alternative dispute resolution (ADR) proceedings throughout South Carolina.
Whether you are facing an insurance coverage dispute involving a claim for personal injury damages, alternative dispute resolution (ADR) can provide a cost-effective way to minimize your legal costs without compromising your legal strategy. Alternative dispute resolution methods avoid the costs and delays of traditional courtroom litigation, and they provide the flexibility to pursue creative solutions that protect your immediate and long-term financial and business interests.
At Howser, Newman & Besley, LLC, we provide strategic legal representation for clients in ADR proceedings throughout South Carolina. In addition, several of our attorneys are certified arbitrators and mediators who serve as neutrals in ADR proceedings. Focusing our practice in the areas of personal injury, construction litigation, insurance coverage, professional negligence, and workers’ compensation – we represent both companies and individuals. We rely upon the decades of combined legal experience that our attorneys possess to effectively represent clients in a broad range of civil disputes. Mediation or arbitration (or both) will most likely be required as a precursor or substitute for litigation. We can help you assess your options, and help you make informed decisions geared toward achieving a favorable and cost-effective resolution.
With offices in Columbia and Charleston, we serve clients in all regions of the state, and we rely on sophisticated technological resources to meet our clients’ needs remotely when necessary. However, we believe in the value of getting to know our clients personally, and our attorneys routinely travel to represent clients in mediation and arbitration proceedings across South Carolina. Founded on the principle that offering cost-effective and customized legal representation is the best way to provide high-quality client service, we are there when and where you need us; and we are fully-prepared to do what is necessary to protect you or your company in ADR.
Areas of Legal Representation for ADR
We serve as neutrals and represent individual and corporate clients in alternative dispute resolution proceedings in each of our firm’s core areas of practice:
- construction disputes,
- contract disputes,
- insurance coverage disputes,
- personal injury,
- professional negligence,
- property damage, and
- workers’ compensation.
Q: What is arbitration?
Arbitration is a form of ADR that essentially falls between mediation and courtroom litigation. The process is much less formal and time-consuming than litigation; however, unlike mediation, the “arbitrator” renders a decision at the conclusion of the proceedings. While the parties to arbitration can agree upon the scope of the procedures to be used, arbitration typically involves:
- A limited discovery process
- Pre-hearing submission of legal arguments to the arbitrator
- A hearing in front of the arbitrator (or panel of arbitrators)
- Unless otherwise agreed by the parties, the arbitrator’s decision will be legally binding. And if one party fails to meet its obligations as imposed by the arbitrator or arbitration panel, the other party can seek to enforce its arbitration award in court.
Q: Are mandatory mediation and arbitration clauses enforceable in South Carolina?
Generally speaking, yes. Mandatory mediation and arbitration clauses are enforceable in South Carolina. Mandatory arbitration clauses in business-to-business contracts will typically be enforced unless there are extenuating circumstances, and the South Carolina courts routinely enforce mandatory ADR clauses in insurance and employment contracts as well (although these may be subject to closer scrutiny in certain circumstances).
If you have an agreement with a mandatory mediation or arbitration clause, it is also important to determine whether the clause applies to your impending dispute. While these clauses are often written broadly in order to cover all contract-related disagreements:
- sometimes these clauses are not as clear as they are intended to be, and
- sometimes certain types of disputes (such as those involving payment or infringement of intellectual property rights) are excluded.
Q: Are certain non-contract disputes subject to mandatory ADR in South Carolina?
Yes. South Carolina’s counties now require mediation in civil matters pursuant to an Order of the South Carolina Supreme Court. Additionally, the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission now requires mediation in certain workers’ compensation disputes. If your dispute is subject to mandatory mediation, engaging in the process in good faith is critical to avoiding adverse consequences, and it can be a cost-effective way to keep your business moving forward. Also, mediation of Probate Court matters is now mandatory in South Carolina.
Q: Who pays the mediator’s or arbitrator’s fees in ADR?
Payment of these fees is generally a matter that is determined by agreement of the parties. This could be an agreement at the outset of the process, or an agreement set forth in a contractual mandatory ADR clause. Commonly, commercial contracts will state that the “losing” party must pay the costs of arbitration (although which party “loses” in arbitration is not necessarily always clear). And in some arbitration matters, the arbitrator or panel may include costs as part of its award. Generally, the parties agree to share the costs of mandatory mediation.
Q: Are alternative dispute resolution proceedings confidential?
Mediation proceedings and negotiations are confidential by agreement. Arbitration proceedings may sometimes be confidential by agreement. Along with the time and cost savings, this confidentiality is one of the primary benefits of using ADR. It will often be in both parties’ best interests to maintain confidentiality regarding both the existence and the outcome of their dispute; and within the ADR process, parties can agree to the specific terms of confidentiality.
About Howser, Newman & Besley, LLC
Howser, Newman & Besley, LLC is a team of experienced litigation attorneys, several of whom are certified arbitrators and/or mediators. With significant experience in a broad range of business-related disputes, we provide strategic and forward-thinking representation for our clients, and we are able to offer valuable insights as neutrals in ADR proceedings. We employ our litigation skills and legal knowledge to produce fair and practical outcomes, and we strive to resolve all matters as amicably and cost-effectively as possible.
Meet the mediators and arbitrators at Howser, Newman & Besley, LLC:
- Kelley Cannon, Certified Mediator and Arbitrator
- Kylie Keesley, Certified Mediator and Arbitrator
- Ben McCoy, Certified Mediator and Arbitrator
Request a Confidential Initial Consultation
If you would like more information about our alternative dispute resolution services, whether as a potential client or as a lawyer in need of a certified mediator or arbitrator with experience in our areas of practice, we encourage you to get in touch. You can reach our Columbia office at (866) 207-6209 and our Charleston office at (877) 216-6970, or you can send an email directly to one of our attorneys.