NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Time, Expense Of Court Trials Boosts Arbitration

October 7, 1999

A recent survey by the National Center for State Courts showed that faith in the U.S. court system was waning.

  • More than 80 percent of respondents believe politics influences court decisions.
  • The same number believe the wealthy get preference in court decisions, and cases take too long to settle.
  • Two-thirds believe they can afford to take a case to court.
  • Almost 70 percent of blacks says they fail to get equal treatment from the courts.

The expense of trying a case and the amount of time it usually takes have caused many people to avoid the courts altogether and use an arbitrator. Arbitration hearings are more informal and consumer-friendly than a court trial, observers say, and according to the National Arbitration Forum, litigating through arbitration costs about 10 percent of a court hearing. An independent arbitrator reviews documents from both sides, perhaps holds a hearing, then renders a decision.

Arbitration is becoming more popular. In 1994, 59,424 arbitration or mediation cases were filed; in 1998, the number had climbed to 95,143.

Source: Dick Thornburgh (U.S. Attorney General under presidents Reagan and Bush), "Zap Some Lawyers: Go For Arbitration," USA Today, October 6, 1999.


Browse more articles on Government Issues