Alternative dispute resolutions are any process, technique or procedure used to resolve conflict without litigation. It regroups all the processes and techniques that occur outside of any governmental authority such as mediation, conciliation, arbitration, and negotiation.
Many people choose to go through alternative dispute resolution in order to avoid litigation, which can be expensive and stressful. It’s also a way to keep private information confidential, which can be important in highly sensitive situations or cases with minor children involved.
In a dispute resolution case, a neutral third party called a mediator helps the disputing parties come to a voluntary agreement. The mediator can either be facilitative, engaging in shuttle diplomacy and keeping their own views hidden, or evaluative, using their knowledge of the law to guide the parties toward an agreement. The most skilled mediators will blend these two approaches to suit the needs of the case.
Arbitration, another primary form of ADR, is similar to mediation except that the decision made by the arbitrator is legally binding. In addition, the arbitration process is more formal than mediation, and it’s often preferred in cases where legal specifics matter greatly.
ADR can be beneficial in many different settings and is an essential tool for any legal department. However, it’s important to understand its limitations and when it is and is not appropriate for certain situations. For example, ADR is not ideal for resolving disputes about topics of public interest such as civil rights violations, environmental laws, or policy decisions that affect the entire population.