Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Part One
Filing a lawsuit and the ensuing litigation can be financially costly and drain your time and energy. In addition, filing new lawsuits can burden an already slow court system. Alternative dispute resolution provides a set of other options that parties can use to solve their conflicts. There are two main kinds of alternative dispute resolution: mediation and arbitration. Each method has positive and negative aspects, just like a lawsuit. Below you will find an introduction to the two main kinds of alternative dispute resolution as well as a few of their advantages and disadvantages. This blog post is the first of a two-part series on alternative dispute resolution. Check back soon for more information on ADR.
A mediation allows both sides to discuss their conflict through the use of a mediator. A mediator is a third-party, often a lawyer themselves, who is impartial and can help draw out conversations that the parties could not have by themselves. Mediation is a good idea for parties who want to, or must, continue having a relationship after their conflicts are resolved. This is because mediation focuses on finding a mutually beneficial solution to the conflict. Mediation is also private, which allows the parties to freely discuss their points of view. Finally, mediation is substantially faster than a formal lawsuit or an arbitration because the parties themselves (with the help of the mediator) are finding a mutually agreeable resolution.
However, mediation is not always the right method to solve a dispute. First, mediation relies on good faith negotiation between the parties. Both parties must have a desire to discuss their conflicts and find a solution to them. Second, either party can refuse to continue the mediation. If this occurs, the mediation ends. Third, the outcome of the mediation, if both parties agree to it, is generally reduced to a written agreement which becomes legally binding.
Arbitration is a less formal method of dispute resolution than litigation and a potential court trial, but it is more formal than mediation. In an arbitration, the parties present their case to one or more previously agreed upon arbitrators. This panel of arbitrators will listen to each side and deliver a decision. Arbitration is often faster than litigation and, consequently, is usually less costly. Additionally, arbitration proceedings can be private, whereas litigation is public.
Using arbitration to resolve disputes does have some drawbacks. First, the decision made by the panel of arbitrators is binding. Second, once a decision has been made in an arbitration, there aren’t many ways for the loser to change the outcome. Compare this to litigation in the court system where the loser can appeal an unfavorable result. Third, because arbitration focuses on a quick resolution, the parties do not receive a detailed justification for the decision. This can be frustrating for parties who seek more than a declaration of who’s right and who’s wrong.
Now that you know more about the main kinds of alternative dispute resolution, you may have questions about which method best suits your situation. The attorneys at Kelly & Brand, Attorneys at Law, LLC can help you assess your legal matter and advise you on the best path to conflict resolution.