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Alternative Dispute Resolution - Mediation, Arbitration, Minitrial, Early Neutral Evaluation, Summary Jury Trial, Adr By Statute And Regulation - Mediation-Arbitration

litigation disputes parties techniques

Procedures for settling disputes by means other than litigation; e.g., by ARBITRATION, mediation, or minitrials. Such procedures, which are usually less costly and more expeditious than litigation, are increasingly being used in commercial and labor disputes, DIVORCE actions, in resolving motor vehicle and MEDICAL MALPRACTICE tort claims, and in other disputes that would likely otherwise involve court litigation.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, many people became increasingly concerned that the traditional method of resolving legal disputes in the United States, through conventional litigation, had become too expensive, too slow, and too cumbersome for many civil lawsuits (cases between private parties). This concern led to the growing use of ways other than litigation to resolve disputes. These other methods are commonly known collectively as alternative dispute resolution (ADR).

As of the early 2000s, ADR techniques were being used more and more, as parties and lawyers and courts realized that these techniques could often help them resolve legal disputes quickly and cheaply and more privately than could conventional litigation. Moreover, many people preferred ADR approaches because they saw these methods as being more creative and more focused on problem solving than litigation, which has always been based on an adversarial model.

The term alternative dispute resolution is to some degree a misnomer. In reality, fewer than 5 percent of all lawsuits filed go to trial; the other 95 percent are settled or otherwise concluded before trial. Thus, it is more accurate to think of litigation as the alternative and ADR as the norm. Despite this fact, the term alternative dispute resolution has become such a well-accepted shorthand for the vast array of nonlitigation processes that its continued use seems assured.

Although certain ADR techniques are well established and frequently used—for example, mediation and arbitration—alternative dispute resolution has no fixed definition. The term alternative dispute resolution includes a wide range of processes, many with little in common except that each is an alternative to full-blown litigation. Litigants, lawyers, and judges are constantly adapting existing ADR processes or devising new ones to meet the unique needs of their legal disputes. The definition of alternative dispute resolution is constantly expanding to include new techniques.

ADR techniques have not been created to undercut the traditional U.S. court system. Certainly, ADR options can be used in cases where litigation is not the most appropriate route. However, they can also be used in conjunction with litigation when the parties want to explore other options but also want to remain free to return to the traditional court process at any point.

Of the many ways to resolve a legal dispute other than formal litigation, mediation, arbitration, mediation-arbitration, MINITRIAL, early neutral evaluation, and summary jury trial are the most common.

Mediation-Arbitration

As its name suggests, mediation-arbitration, or med-arb, combines mediation and arbitration. First, a mediator tries to bring the parties closer together and help them reach their own agreement. If the parties cannot compromise, they proceed to arbitration—before that same third party or before a different arbitrator—for a final and binding decision.

FURTHER READINGS

Meek, Susan B. 1996. Alternative Dispute Resolution. Tucson, Az.: Lawyers and Judges.

Ware, Stephen J. 2001. Alternative Dispute Resolution. St. Paul, Minn.: West Group.

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