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Settling a dispute that crosses international borders can be more complex than ordinary dispute resolution. Though there is no foolproof method of international dispute settlement, participants in international trade, commerce, and law do have some options that can make the settlement process more manageable. Researching precedent and relevant laws, attempting mediation or arbitration, and building international dispute settlement parameters into initial contracts can help speed the process of solving any international dispute.
When a dispute arises between parties in different countries, it is important to research any legal history that may affect the outcome of the issue. Countries may have similar or even identical laws on certain issues that can greatly ease the process of international dispute settlement, since both parties will be subject to the same laws. Since international disputes are fairly common, there may also be legal precedent, such as similar past cases, that can be used to solve some problems. Hiring lawyers with a long history of experience in international law can help unearth helpful legal provisions that can simplify the resolution process.
Mediation is a popular option for international dispute settlement. This process uses a neutral third party, generally one with experience in legal dispute resolution, to facilitate the settlement process between principal parties. By agreeing to mediation, both sides in a dispute have the opportunity to work together to avoid the harrowing experience of international court. One downside to mediation is that it is not legally binding, meaning that one or both sides may opt out of the proposed settlement without legal consequences. Mediation may work best when all sides are willing to work to achieve a fair resolution.
Arbitration is a formal process that may provide a faster settlement than court proceedings, while resulting in a binding legal solution. An arbitrator or panel of three arbitrators is selected with the input of the principle parties, but has sole discretion in determining an international dispute settlement. One of the major advantages of arbitration is that proceedings are conducted in private and often sealed, meaning that participants enjoy a greater much greater measure of privacy than is permitted in an international court. Participants must volunteer for arbitration, but once agreed, are legally bound by the settlement.
A good way to avoid confusion over international dispute settlement procedures is to build mechanisms for dispute resolution into all international contracts. Using contract clauses that require arbitration or mediation in the event of a dispute prevent one side from stalling or hiding behind national laws should a dispute arise. If an international partner is unwilling to agree to a fair international dispute settlement clause, it can be a warning sign in some cases. Since most international dispute resolution methods stress neutrality and fairness, an aboveboard partner will likely have no problem agreeing to abide by their use.
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