What is Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)?
“Alternative Dispute Resolution” or “ADR” refers to dispute resolution processes other than traditional litigation and trial in a court of law or adjudication by governmental administrative agency. Alternative Dispute Resolution includes processes employed to resolve disputes by decision (e.g., arbitration), analysis and recommendation, (e.g., fact-finding or neutral evaluation), or facilitation of communication and understanding among disputing parties to help them achieve their own resolution of their dispute (e.g., mediation).
What is Arbitration?
“Arbitration” refers to the adjudication of a dispute by one or more neutrals (“arbitrators”) who issue a decision (“award”) after each party to the dispute has had an opportunity to present evidence and argument. Arbitration is often agreed to as part of a contract before the dispute arises. It is similar in structure to traditional litigation and trial, however, proceedings are typically less formal and conducted in private, rules of evidence are often more relaxed, and parties join in selecting their decision maker. Arbitrators frequently are attorneys or retired judges, but parties often select non-lawyers who are knowledgeable in the subject area of the dispute. Arbitration can be non-binding (“advisory arbitration”), but arbitration awards are more commonly binding, and the losing party has limited rights of appeal.
What is Mediation?
“Mediation” refers to a process in which one or more ADR neutrals (“mediators”) facilitate communication between disputing parties to help them reach their own resolution of their dispute in a confidential setting.
ADR is not bound to the strict rules of Civil Procedure. While AAA, JAMS and others have standard rules, the Parties may agree on others. The end result of an Arbitration is a final binding Ruling. However, in Mediation, the Parties are always in control in choosing a voluntary outcome. To guide the Parties in reaching an acceptable settlement, the Mediator may try any one or several processes including a Mediators Proposal, Facilitation, Conciliation, Consensus Building, facilitation, in conjunction with fact-finding.
The overall objective is to reach an appropriate settlement of the issues efficiently, based on the agreed procedures of the parties.
Robert J. Flack, Esq.