Alternative Dispute Resolution (“ADR”) is, generally, any method of resolving disputes outside of a courtroom. The most common types of ADR are mediation and arbitration.
Another type of ADR, negotiation, is often also attempted first to settle legal disputes. ADR can be a very advantageous alternative to litigation. Litigation has become increasingly costly and busy court schedules result in time delays for litigants. ADR is generally more informal than traditional litigation and is often less expensive and allows for speedier resolutions.
However, even though this case may not be in the traditional courtroom setting, it is still important to have attorneys experienced in ADR to help you through the process and make sure your case is portrayed in the best light.
Arbitration is similar to a traditional trial, but with limited discovery and simplified evidence rules, whereby both sides present their cases to a third-party neutral, an arbitrator. While any dispute may be submitted for resolution in arbitration by agreement of the parties, it is most commonly found in cases involving contracts which include “arbitration clauses” in their fine print.
Absent agreement by all parties involved, either in the original contract or once the dispute arises, cases usually cannot be submitted to arbitration. If a contract includes an arbitration clause, it may also state specific guidelines for the arbitration process, including the number of arbitrators, the forum to be used, and who pays any fees. A case may be heard by a single arbitrator or a panel of arbitrator and the arbitrators’ decision is binding on the parties.
Mediation is more informal than arbitration as an alternative to litigation. Mediation also involves a third-party neutral, a mediator usually trained in negotiations, that helps the parties try to reach an agreement. Parties to mediation are free to accept or reject any agreement that comes about through mediation, since mediation is not binding on the parties. As with arbitration, mediation usually requires voluntary consent from both parties, although some courts are now moving toward mandatory mediation in all cases before scheduling a trial date. Mediation can be, and often is, also used in both arbitration and litigation.
While the rules and procedures are different from litigation, the overall concept behind arbitration and mediation is the same as with litigation: finding a resolution to a problem that has become an impasse for the parties. Having a thorough understanding of the processes involved, and the differences among them, helps our attorneys craft the most advantageous strategy and approach on behalf of our clients. Often, the differences in the applicable procedures and rules can shape the best approach on behalf of a client, and an experienced advocate is critically important.
Having experienced counsel to assist you with these processes is crucial. While any attorney can represent you in these proceedings, at GCPC, we leverage our experience and familiarity in these forums to your advantage. Our litigation attorneys are also very experienced in all forms of ADR. We have handled many cases in the most common arbitration and mediation forums, including the American Arbitration Association, The McCammon Group, JAMS, FINRA, and others. Since, generally, to utilize ADR it must be written into an agreement upfront, or agreed to by both parties, it is important to talk to an attorney before a dispute actually arises. Call GCPC today to so we can help you figure out if ADR is right for you and ensure you’re prepared if a legal dispute arises.