Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

By Lia Kopin-Green
April 3, 2022

What is Alternative Dispute Resolution?

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is defined as any method used to resolve disputes without a trial. ADR can come in many different forms, but the most common processes are mediation, independent negotiation, and arbitration. The goal of ADR is to provide a platform for the parties to work towards an agreement without a judge or any other legal authority.

This dynamic approach to solving conflicts has become increasingly popular because of its many benefits. ADR procedures are typically quicker and less complicated than traditional litigation, and as a result, they tend to be significantly more cost-effective than going through an expensive trial. Additionally, ADR tends to protect the reputation and privacy of the parties involved compared to a public trial. Many ADR processes, particularly mediation, aim to reach a fair compromise. This ideally allows the parties to preserve their relationship on good terms.

On the other hand, ADR has its downsides. Most Alternative Dispute Resolution practices require that both sides be willing to mediate, so a reluctant party can result in ineffective ADR. It was also found that settlement amounts tend to be lower in cases of ADR as opposed to compensation achieved in court. The last and arguably most significant drawback of ADR is the idea that there are no guarantees; you may spend a lot of time and money on a process and still not receive a final outcome. 

Key Takeaways

  • Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) refers to the different ways people can solve conflicts without a formal trial.
  • Standard types of ADR include negotiation, mediation, and arbitration.
  • Using ADR can be cheaper and faster than litigation but it does not guarantee an outcome.

Common Types of ADR

  1. Negotiation - Generally, this strategy is attempted first before resorting to other types of ADR. The result of a negotiation is reached by the parties alone, without the help of a neutral third party. This method is quite flexible and uses an informal, interest-based approach.
  2. Mediation - In this alternative to litigation, professionally trained and impartial mediators work alongside the opposing parties to help them reach a mutual agreement or settlement. In most cases, the mediator is not a licensed attorney. Mediation can work well for cases in family law, personal injury, and labor or employment issues.
  3. Arbitration - This process of ADR is described as the private and confidential resolution of a dispute by an independent third party known as an arbitrator. Considered to be a more formal version of mediation, arbitration is popular in commercial law. In these cases, all parties involved must give consent to allow an arbitrator to determine the outcome.

Bottom Line

In summary, Alternative Dispute Resolution can be a relatively fast and inexpensive way to solve conflicts. However, ADR is not always the right choice and it is important to evaluate all options for resolving a dispute. A good lawyer can advise you on which route to take and which form of ADR, if any, is right for you.

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