Lawsuits can settle at any time prior to trial. In Harris County, the district court judges usually order mediations in an attempt to get parties to resolve cases on the courts’ dockets without the necessity of a trial because this is more expeditious and less costly. Mediators are appointed to handle the mediations. A mediator is an attorney who is a neutral third party who facilitates communication among the parties, identifies key issues and interests, and encourages settlement.

Another way that a case may be resolved is through arbitration. Like mediations, arbitrations are out of court proceedings. However, arbitrations are unlike mediations in that they are like mini trials where witness testimony and evidence are introduced. There are some disadvantages to arbitration. Arbitrations are usually binding, meaning that the decisions of the arbitrators are final and not appealable. And, arbitrations are much more costly than mediations. The need for arbitration arises when an arbitration clause is part of a contract. An example of an arbitration clause is as follows:

“All claims and disputes arising under or relating to the Agreement

are to be settled by binding arbitration in the state of Texas. Any

decision or award as a result of any such arbitration proceeding

shall be in writing and shall provide an explanation of all conclusions

of law and finding of fact and shall include the assessment of costs,

expenses, and reasonable attorneys’ fees.”


Arbitration clauses can be found in the fine print of certain contracts, including insurance contracts and credit card agreements.

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