Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is a broad umbrella that covers processes for settling disputes without litigation. We are familiar with some processes such as mediation and arbitration and less familiar with others such as private judging and summary jury trial. The continued growth of alternative dispute resolution has resulted in a hybrid of processes that are a cross between ADR and the traditional adversarial litigation process. This blog with be the first in a series of posts designed to educate readers on many of the processes that that fall under the broad umbrella of ADR and the reasons why you might consider an ADR proceess when you find yourself engaged in a dispute.
One popular ADR process often used is mediation. Mediation is a process where individuals engaged in a dispute agree to use the assistance of a neutral third party to discuss their dispute and reach a win-win settlement to their dispute. It may be an informal meeting among the parties or a court-ordered settlement conference. Cases suitable for mediation are disputes in commercial transactions, personal injury, construction, workers compensation, labor or community relations, divorce, domestic relations, employment or any other matters which do not involve complex procedural or evidentiary issues. Attendance at the mediation conference is voluntary by the parties, except where governed by statute or contract clause.
Parties engaged in a dispute may prefer mediation to resolve their issue over adversarial litigation because mediation is collaborative process that allows the parties to understand each other's positions. Mediation also allows the parties to come up with more creative solutions that a court may not be legally allowed to impose. In addition, mediation usually typically less costly and more expeditious than litigation. Mediators typically charge a flat rate for a half (4 hours) or full (8 hours) day session, but also can charge an hourly rate when sessions exceed the half or full day. They are increasingly being utilized to resolve disputes that would otherwise result in litigation, including high-profile labor disputes, divorce actions, and personal injury claims. In addition to saving time and money, mediation allows the opposing parties the opportunity to resolve their dispute together rather than have someone in the litigation process tell the other parties what to do. In the process of working together there may still be hard feelings but not as serious as those from litigation. Often times, the parties are able to repair or maintain their relationship.