ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION (“ADR”) is a term covering the full range of techniques designed to resolve disputes short of trial in the public courts.
ADR does not replace the court system. Certain cases will always need to be tried in a public courthouse. However, ADR complements the court system by making methods available to resolve disputes at reduced cost, in less time, and often without the win-lose outcome that characterizes conventional civil litigation.
Public policy has long favored arbitration and mediation as opposed to the complexity and cost of litigation. As litigation costs have risen, and court congestion has worsened, private litigants are increasingly turning to ADR as a way to manage disputes they cannot avoid.
It is well recognized that in many cases clients can obtain better results through ADR than through conventional litigation. Parties can avoid delay and expense of litigation, maintain confidentiality, maintain control over the process and achieve a better outcome.
BINDING VS. NONBINDING ADR
Probably the biggest factor in selecting ADR procedures is whether a third party neutral will have the power to make a binding decision.
Mediation is a nonbinding voluntary process that involves a third party facilitating negotiations and achieves a result by consent. Contractual arbitration and private judging are binding adversarial proceedings.
Mediation is a less hostile and is a less confrontational format for resolving disputes, where parties attempt to resolve their differences between themselves rather than relying on an inefficient, expensive, and time-consuming judicial system. Before your litigation advances, it may be in your best interest to talk with your attorney to determine if mediation is right for your case.