Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) provides options for resolving legal disputes without having to go through formal litigation. It is cheaper, faster and easy than going to court, and a less adversarial process. ADR includes negotiation, mediation, arbitration and collaborative law. In some cases you are required to attempt to reach a resolution through ADR before you are allowed to take your case to trial.
Faster, Less Formal, More Flexible
ADR is faster and more flexible than going to court. The rules are not as rigid, and you can schedule ADR whenever both parties are ready, rather than having to wait for available court dates. You can choose to enter ADR even if you have started the process of a lawsuit.
Since ADR is not as formal, it lends itself to successful negotiation. Depending on the nature of your case and the agreements you have chosen regarding ADR, you may still be able to go to court if an acceptable resolution cannot be reached. This eases the pressure on both parties.
ADR is confidential. The results of litigation are typically public record, but ADR is not. It helps both parties save face, which makes it easier to compromise and reach an acceptable agreement.
A More Satisfying Outcome
ADR can preserve the relationship between the parties. It is a more cooperative process and allows both parties to express what they want to get out of the deal, so they can both come out as winners instead of the win/lose situation you face at the end of a trial.
The outcome of a civil lawsuit is generally limited to a monetary award, but sometimes money award is not what the aggrieved party wants out of the situation. ADR can reveal the underlying issues at the heart of a dispute and provide solutions that satisfy both parties and can even lead to an improved relationship between the two instead of ongoing hostility.
Conflicts between businesses, between neighbors, and within families, are just a few examples of situations where ADR, particularly mediation, can sometimes provide a more satisfying and amicable outcome.
Mandatory Alternative Dispute Resolution
In many states you are required to try or consider ADR before going to court in a civil case. Many contracts include an arbitration clause which says that any dispute will be handled through arbitration instead of a lawsuit. Consumers often enter into contracts with arbitration clauses without even realizing it. For instance, credit card contracts often include an arbitration clause.