Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)
Conflicts abound throughout the world. There is a growing movement called Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) as a solution.
ADR has become increasing popular as a result of individual and company dissatisfaction over the increasing costs and delays of the court system. It has saved millions in legal expenses and will continue to so in the future.
Besides saving time and money on litigation, ADR is a way of self-reliance and determination by seeking to negotiate and resolve our conflict quickly with our neighbors. Without the use of guns or lawyers disputes between neighbors can be resolved peacefully and voluntarily.
Anyone with a claim against another person can start a lawsuit. All that is required is to serve your opponent with a summons and complaint. Lawyers require it to be a “cause of action” to go anywhere in the courts, but your opponent’s consent is not needed to resolve the dispute in the courts.
There are three practical alternatives to litigation: negotiation, mediation and arbitration. However, these require a willingness on both sides to enter into the process. These are the voluntary ways of conflict resolution.
As you move along a scale — from least costly/quickest to most costly/lengthy – the order would be as follows:
Avoid/Ignore --Negotiation -- Mediation -- Arbitration -- Litigation
Avoidance: This may be the easiest way to avoid conflict and in some instances is the best solution. However, unresolved conflict will not go away by itself and usually returns if not dealt with correctly.
Negotiation: Strategic communication between two or more parties is the most effective method. It underlies and informs the entire system of conflict resolution. The opponents have the most individual control and flexibility at this stage.
Mediation: Once an impasse occurs a third-party (as neutral as possible) is brought in to facilitate the negotiation. The goal is to reach a durable, agreed upon settlement by all the parties involved. A high level of individual control and flexibility remains between the opponents with the mediator guiding the process for settlement but not in a decision-making role.
Arbitration: If a dispute cannot be settled between the opposing parties the decision for a settlement can be made by a third party. The individuals can present their side of the issue but then lose control of the final outcome made by the Arbitrator.
Litigation: Attorneys can be involved in any of the previous stages of conflict resolution but at this level they are the ones directly in charge of the process. Usually the atmosphere is adversarial and if presented to a judge/jury for a decision there is no control by the individual parties.
Other legal facts to note are:
96% of legal cases are settled out of court, especially because of overloaded dockets for court hearings.
90% of jail time is a result of negotiation (plea-bargaining) taking 3-5 minutes without the represented parties having any control.
Having help in discussing your position, the interests that are driving the expectations, and the best options for an acceptable-acceptable outcome make the most sense; time and money-wise.