Alternative Dispute Resolution: Mediation

Legal processes are generally long, tiresome and expensive, which is why often times we try to avoid them. Resolving serious disagreements outside of the courtroom is called alternative dispute resolution (ADR). There are a number of different approaches that can be taken: arbitration, neutral evaluation and settlement conferences are examples. Today, we will be taking a closer look at another option: mediation.

What is Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)?

Alternative dispute resolution is what takes place when a dispute is resolved outside of court. ADR can be the preferred option in some cases for a number of different reasons. ADR can also be a much faster and cheaper process than litigation. Another benefit of ADR over litigation is that it provides a better opportunity for different parties to come to an understanding. It can lead to more creative solutions than would be available if the matter proceeded to court.

Different forms of Alternative Dispute Resolution

There are different ADR methods that can be used. Common methods are mediation and arbitration. Other forms are neutral evaluation and settlement conferences.

Arbitration is an informal and simplified version of a trial. An impartial third party or panel hears both parties. The third party comes to a decision which might or might not be binding.

Settlement conferences are out of court discussions, without the use of an impartial third party, in which both parties and their representatives (if any) try to find a solution which both parties can agree to.

Neutral evaluation takes place when a neutral party evaluates the evidence and hears both sides, and gives an opinion based on that.

Mediation Explained

Mediation is a form of ADR that aims at bringing the opposing parties to a mutually beneficial and agreeable outcome. This is done with the help of a neutral mediator who applies techniques to enhance communication and understanding among the different parties.

Mediation differs from negotiation in the use of a third party. During a settlement conference, the two opposing parties try to come to an agreement together. In meditation a 3rd party specialist is involved to facilitate the best possible outcome.

Unlike a impartial third party in a neutral evaluation process, a mediator does not offer their own view on matters.. In mediation, the decision to settle or proceed to court is still fully in the hands of the opposing parties involved.

The Benefits Of Mediation

Mediation is an informal ADR technique. It can take place in any setting that all parties are comfortable with. Because it takes place in an informal setting, the process is private.

As everything else, there are also downsides to mediation. In some instances, it can very well lead nowhere, resulting in wasted time for both parties, and possibly money on the process. Another reason why mediation might not be the right choice can occur when the communication between the parties has broken down to the point where they are not willing to collaborate and cooperate to reach a settlement agreement.

In the end, each dispute is unique and where mediation might lead to a better a mutually agreeable outcome in one case, it might be a waste of resources like time and money, in another. If you have questions or concerns about the best options for reaching a resolution in your case, contact us. We will be happy to help you make a decision, based on your own circumstances.