No one really wants to go to court for something they can settle in an informal setting. Before launching a full-scale lawsuit, it’s sometimes a good idea to check and see if alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is the right choice for you. ADR can take several forms, such as mediation, or neutral evaluation, but it always involves some kind of informal discussion and settlement that happens outside of court. It’s often favored by businesses with lawsuits on their hands and can significantly reduce the costs, time, and tension poured into a legal issue. Here are some pointers on whether or not ADR is right for an issue:
If it’s apparent to any unbiased and reasonable person that one of the parties in a legal issue is clearly and totally at fault, and that party isn’t willing to make a complete settlement, then the other party shouldn’t make an attempt at arbitration. It’s best to take it to court because they’ll be able to win the case. Most issues aren’t that simple, though, so when it isn’t clear that one party or the other is totally at fault, it’s often a good idea to consider ADR.
If both parties are amicable toward one another, arbitration is probably the better option. It can turn a process that normally takes months or years into something that takes a few weeks. Of course, if the issue concerns harassment, intimidation, or any sort of violence, then don’t wait to take legal action. Also, both parties should be willing to give and take a little. Alternative dispute resolution isn’t about winning, but about solving the issue, and this isn’t going to happen if nobody is willing to back down a bit on their demands.
Arbitration shouldn’t be an undercover court procedure. Many attempts at arbitration, especially by large corporations, have turned into as much of a legal hassle as litigation. If the case is too complex for any of the different processes of arbitration available, a court procedure may actually be simpler. The point of arbitration is to make a resolution as simple, cost-effective, and short as possible for everyone concerned, so if it’s going to be ugly in any event, it should be ugly in court.
Keep in mind as well that promises made by parties in arbitration aren’t usually legally binding, so one party should not negotiate if they have serious reason to think the other party isn’t going to uphold their end of the deal. Above all, if the parties do decide to move forward with ADR, it’s important for them to commit to the fact that it is meant to be a resolution, and thus to try and solve the dispute as amicably as it can be done. Despite the fact that it isn’t for every case, alternative dispute resolution is often a great way to minimize the effects of a dispute by keeping it as informal and friendly as possible.