Mediation and Arbitration: Two paths for Alternative Dispute Resolution

Alternative Dispute Resolution (known as “ADR”) can be used to resolve conflicts without becoming involved in civil litigation. The continual increase in courthouse closings across the country is likely to push trial dates even farther out on the calendar as well, which may make using ADR to resolve disputes a more viable option.

Depending on your venue and jurisdiction, the types of disputes that may be resolved using the ADR process include: conflicts between neighbors, inheritance disputes, landlord/tenant disputes, divorce, financial disputes, contractor disputes, business disputes and employment disputes.

Mediation is one form of Alternative Dispute Resolution wherein two or more parties may come to a resolution using the skills of a court-appointed mediator to arrive at a settlement without the process of appearing before judge. In many instances, mediation may provide a less costly and timelier avenue for negotiating a resolution, however, as with any legal matter, most especially if your personal property and legal rights are as stake, you may want to consult with a qualified attorney to guide you through the process.

It is important to note that mediation is different from other types of Alternative Dispute Resolution, such as Arbitration or Neutral Evaluation. Not only are mediators neutral, they work on both sides of the dispute to encourage resolution by participating in discussions and negotiations. It is ultimately up to the parties involved in the dispute to reach a resolution.

Arbitration, on the other hand, involves an arbitrator who remains neutral during review of both party’s perceptions of the dispute; this includes viewing documentation supporting each side as well as any witness testimony. However, in arbitration, the arbitrator has the power to make the final decision in the outcome. A key facet of the arbitration process is whether the parties have agreed to non-binding or binding arbitration. If non-binding arbitration is chosen, a party may still file a lawsuit if they are not satisfied with the outcome whereas binding arbitration is final.

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