The courts offer a variety of alternative dispute resolutions to help people settle disputes without going to trial. These processes are generally less formal, less expensive and more efficient than traditional court proceedings. The most common forms of ADR include mediation, arbitration and settlement conferences.
The term “alternative dispute resolution” includes any voluntary process designed to promote reconciliation, compromise, and agreement outside of litigation. It also includes a broad range of techniques, such as mediation, arbitration, facilitation, factfinding, minitrials, and neutral evaluation.
In the most basic form, mediation, a neutral third party (the mediator) helps opposing parties reach their own mutually acceptable solution to a dispute. A skilled mediator uses shuttle diplomacy, keeping his or her own views hidden while guiding the parties through discussions and identifying possible solutions.
Arbitration, the other primary form of ADR, is similar to mediation, but in arbitration a neutral third party hears each side of a case and renders a decision that is binding on the parties. A skilled arbitrator will listen to the arguments and evidence presented by each party, making the best determination of the facts in a given situation.
Alternative dispute resolution is a path that usually only becomes available after all efforts to resolve a legal problem by direct negotiations between the disputing parties have failed. As burgeoning court queues, rising costs of litigation and time delays continue to plague litigants, many courts have begun exploring alternatives to traditional court proceedings. alternative dispute resolutions