Alternative Dispute Resolution

Alternative Dispute Resolution provides an alternative for legal dispute resolution or litigation. There are several methods that fall under the category of ADR. People and businesses can adopt them to avoid the hassles associated with litigation.  ADRs have been found to be effective as well as time saving. More and more individuals and businesses are adopting it. Generally, ADR includes processes like arbitration, mediation, neutral evaluation and collaborative law. However, the best thing about these processes is their cost effectiveness and speed. These are the primary advantages that have led to the popularity of ADR. Most notable thing regarding ADR is that it is outside the realms of the legal structure. Its decisions can be binding or nonbinding. However, the ADR proceedings are generally less formal and less  stressful when compared with court proceedings.

Court proceedings can be time taking and throughout one may have to spend lot of money on several things. This is where ADR has proved to be particularly effective. Apart from speedy settlement, the proceedings are cost effective. It saves the parties both precious time and money. The parties can derive creative solutions and play creative roles in the resolution of their own disputes.  The result is that parties can arrive at solutions that are mutually beneficial and suit the choices of the two parties. ADRs help the involved parties at arriving at agreeable solutions without spoiling their relationships. Moreover, the certainty of reaching a mutually beneficial decision is higher in case of Alternative Dispute Resolution compared to general litigation. Some of the common forms of ADR are discussed below:


It is the most common form of Alternative Dispute Resolution used now a days. The arbitration clauses have even found their way into commercial agreements. Most importantly, courts also encourage parties to adopt arbitration methods for settling disputes. There is a neutral third party called the arbitrator who hears the arguments. He evaluates the evidence presented by both sides and gives a decision. Arbitration is less formal compared to the court litigation. The rules are also lenient in terms of evidence comparatively. However, there can be both binding and non-binding arbitration. In case of the binding arbitration, the decision made by the arbitrators are final and binding. None of the parties has a right to appeal in this case. In case of the non-binding arbitration, the parties have a right to appeal for a trial if they do not find the decision of the arbitrator acceptable.

Case Conferencing:

The focus of case conferencing is on narrowing down the issues involved in a dispute. The judge or his representative meets the two parties and their attorneys. His aim is to resolve part or the entire dispute before going for a trial. However, the participation of the two parties is much less than as in arbitration. Moreover, this method tries to narrow down the issues to minimize them before going to trial.

Collaborative family law:

It is a form of ADR providing the divorcing couples with an amicable method of ending their relationship. Specially trained lawyers provide the divorcing couples with support and guidance on the issue. However, in case either of the spouse decides to take it to the court, both should hire new lawyers. The result is that people are motivated to find mutually respectful and agreeable solutions. In particular cases, collaborative family law may not be a suitable method. For example in cases where there is a history of domestic violence or even a fear, it might not be the way to go. In cases where one of the spouses cannot be found, Collaborative Family law is not suitable for resolution.


Mediation like arbitration involves a neutral third party called the mediator. However, the mediator unlike the arbitrator does not give the decision. He only helps the two parties reach an agreeable decision. He helps the two parties at communication so that they can find common ground and resolve their dispute amicably. Mediation might be more suitable for particular situations. In situations where relatives, neighbors or business partners are in a dispute it is the most suitable method of dispute resolution. However, in cases where one party has significant control over the other mediation would not be a proper method to be used.

Neutral evaluation:

This method also involves a neutral third party. In this case the neutral third party hears the case as a court would. The neutral party hears the arguments of both the sides and evaluates the merit of their arguments as well as presents an evaluation of what the likely court outcome would be in the situation. He does this in order to promote settlement. Notably, the third party involved in evaluation has expertise in the subject matter related to the dispute. If the parties agree the neutral evaluator can provide assistance with case planning and settlement as well.

Parenting coordination:

As the name suggests parenting coordination provides the parents involved in a dispute with a plan for coordination in parenting. The third party called the parenting coordinators are generally mental, health or legal professionals the parenting coordinator can also make decisions with the prior approval of both parties and the court. These decisions lie within the scope of the court order or the appointment contract. The purpose of this coordination is to resolve the conflicts between parents related to parenting in a timely manner and to promote safe and healthy parent child relationships.

Summary jury trials:

In case of summary jury trials, each party produces its case before the jury in summarized form. Based on their arguments the jury makes an advisory decision. The decision is advisory in the sense that unless the parties want it to be a binding decision, it is not considered binding. In a way, the summary jury trial, provides the parties with a preview of what the verdict might be given the case goes to trial.

Alternative Dispute Resolution methods can save the parties in a dispute from several hassles that are generally a part of litigation. They are time saving since the parties can arrive at an agreeable and justified decision speedily.  Within the process, the parties have a relatively higher degree of freedom to participate. Apart from it ADR methods can be used to arrive at mutually beneficial resolutions and are particularly suitable if one does not want to spoil a long built relationship. Businesses or individuals that want their disputes to be resolved quickly without any legal trouble should adopt the ADR methods.


Suggested reading:

Anticompetitive Collaboration

Antitrust laws

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