If parties who have a dispute cannot reach a compromise themselves through negotiation, they need not immediately resort to litigation. There are several types of Alternative Dispute Resolution, also called ADR, methods that people can attempt, and these methods offer several advantages over litigation in many cases.
Types of ADR
Alternative Dispute Resolution is a category that encompasses a number of different types of dispute resolution methods. One of the most popular types of ADR is mediation. Mediation involves using a neutral third party trained in negotiation to meet with the disputing sides to discuss issues in contention to see if they can reach an agreement. Mediation is not binding, so if the parties do not like the recommendations of the mediator, they need not adopt them.
Arbitration is another option for those seeking to avoid litigation. Arbitration involves submitting a dispute to a neutral third party upon whom the parties have agreed. Each party the opportunity to be heard by the arbiter, who then makes a decision. The decision of the arbiter is binding on the parties.
Early neutral evaluation is a different form of ADR than mediation or arbitration, wherein the strength of each party's case is assessed by a neutral third party who has knowledge and experience in the matter under dispute. In many cases, the third party is an attorney. Having a third party assess the strength of a case often helps people let go of unreasonable positions and become more open to negotiation.
Benefits of ADR
ADR methods can offer several advantages over traditional litigation. In many cases, using ADR can cost people significantly less money in attorney's fees and court costs. ADR often takes far less time to resolve issues than a trial does, so people do not need to pay attorneys for the multiple preliminary court appearances, motion practice, discovery and other critical work that attorneys do when preparing for trial.
Many people report that they feel like they have more control of the outcome of the matter when using ADR. Because of the discussion-oriented nature of many forms of ADR, many feel like they have an opportunity to be heard when using ADR more so than if they had gone to trial. ADR also allows people to maintain privacy, as these proceedings are not public the way that trials and records of trials are.
Seek the assistance of an attorney
ADR is becoming more popular as a means for resolving a variety of legal issues, from business disputes to divorce and child custody matters. However, ADR is not appropriate in all cases. If you have a legal issue and are considering ADR, speak with an attorney who is skilled both in litigation and ADR who can advise you which path would be best for your individual situation.