Many people come to us asking: “What is Alternative Dispute Resolution?” and “How can ADR benefit me?” They want to know if there is an easier way to settle disputes that would otherwise mean waiting a long time to get heard in a backlogged court system – not to mention spending an exorbitant amount of money on legal fees. As experienced conflict management professionals and mediators, we know that Alternative Dispute Resolution can help parties reach agreements by means other than traditional adjudication.

Through Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), conflicting parties in a number of circumstances can find resolution for legal disputes without having to head to court. There are various methods for working out disagreements using ADR, and each of these provides a viable alternative in cases where litigation costs can be extremely high – for personal and business conflict.

Below are explanations of two of the most common forms of ADR: Arbitration and Mediation.

What is Alternative Dispute Resolution, and How Does it Relate to Arbitration?

Arbitration is one form of ADR. In many jurisdictions, courts order civil litigants with claims not exceeding a specific dollar amount to find resolution through an arbitrator. This is often the case with courts that want to keep their dockets clear for lawsuits that are more substantial. Often, courts allow litigants to select arbitration instead of a trial, and they can mutually choose non-binding or binding arbitration.

Non-binding arbitration lets the losing party request a new court trial to have the dispute heard civilly. A court appoints a well-established arbitrator to hear the details of the dispute and perform mediator duties. The parties involved often have a say in the arbitrator that is chosen. During arbitration, both sides present their case and then the arbitrator makes a decision as to who wins.

Mediation to Reach a Settlement

Mediation is another form of Alternative Dispute Resolution. Using mediation as an ADR approach, parties can take part in a meeting led by a mediator or facilitator. Unlike arbitration, this type of settlement attempt does not involve a decision-making process by one person, but rather uses a neutral party as a go-between to help both sides reach a voluntary resolution. Typically, facilitative mediators aim to help both parties arrive at a Win-Win solution that both can live with.

Conflicting parties who have become aggressive toward each other or who have aggressive attorneys often benefit from non-trial ADR settlements. If you would like explore coming to agreement with another party using Alternative Dispute Resolution, contact Pollack Peacebuilding Systems today.

We offer mediation and dispute resolution services for business and individual matters. And we’ll answer any questions you might have, even as basic as “What is Alternative Dispute Resolution?” We can help with a more detailed discussion of conflict resolution mythologies and settlement possibilities.


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