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What is alternative dispute resolution?

Explore alternative dispute resolution for an easier and quicker outcome

There are many ways to resolve major disputes, and not all of them involve a trip to court or a hearing with a judge. Some cases may be solved more quickly and affordably using the alternative dispute resolution approach.

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What is alternative dispute resolution?

Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is a process for resolving disputes without litigation in court. Though often associated with divorce, this type of mediation is well-suited to many areas including personal injury claims, landlord-tenant issues, and labor disputes.

Alternative dispute resolution takes place in an informal setting with a neutral mediator to help both sides come to an agreeable solution. The mediator is an important part of the process, but has no legal authority to decide the case. Unlike legal proceedings, where a judge will make a final ruling, the participants in alternative dispute resolution maintain control over the resolution.

Understanding the difference between mediation and arbitration

Arbitration and mediation are both options for an ADR case. The most important difference between arbitration and mediation is that an arbitrator’s final decision is legally-binding. Though an arbitrator's decision can be challenged and overruled by a court, this is not the norm. When entering arbitration, you’re required follow to the arbitrator's ruling.

Mediation is less formal and involves more interaction between the 2 parties. A mediator does not hand down a ruling. Rather, they help the parties communicate clearly with one another and come to a resolution of their own devising.

When does it make sense to use an alternative dispute resolution?

There are many instances where an alternative dispute resolution is preferable to going to court. If you have a case where you need clear resolution of an issue, but you're not interested in going through full legal proceedings, alternative dispute resolution may offer a simple and affordable solution.

ADR is most commonly used for neutral evaluation, arbitration, settlement conferences, and mediation. If you are dealing with any of these issues, you may want to consider the benefits and drawbacks of alternative dispute resolution before going forward.

Benefits of alternative dispute resolution

There are many benefits associated with an alternative dispute resolution.

Have more flexibility and control than they will experience in court. Using ADR, 2 parties may agree to a solution that wouldn't be permissible within the stricter legal confines of the court system.

Pursue a mutually beneficial resolution. In court cases, a party may have a distinct advantage over the other. When both parties are amenable to ADR proceedings, they are typically willing to give one another fair consideration throughout the proceedings. This is particularly useful in cases where both people will maintain a relationship after the case, such as a tenant and landlord, employer and employee, or divorcing spouses.

Avoid the stress of going to court. Through ADR, you can schedule sessions that work for both or your schedules, outside of court.

Drawbacks of alternative dispute resolution

While alternative dispute resolution is ideal for many situations, it does have its limitations.

Arbitrators lack the legal authority of a judge. They cannot order either party to do or refrain from doing anything.

Orders to perform or refrain from specific actions, known as injunctions, can only come from a court proceeding. If you're seeking an injunction, ADR will not work for you.

The arbitrator's decision in an ADR case is not final. A court can overturn an arbitrator's decision for many reasons, particularly if the court decides the issues included in the arbitration fall outside the scope of the agreement.

Alternative dispute resolution is a valuable alternative that can save you time, money, and stress. If you believe this is the best course of action for your case, you may want to consult with an attorney to make sure your rights are well protected as you proceed.

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