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What are my Alternatives to Trial?


Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is a process separate from litigation that allows for the settlement of disputes outside of the traditional courtroom. This may be done through negotiation, mediation, or arbitration. ADR most commonly resolves disputes regarding labor, divorce, or personal injury claims. These alternatives to litigation are advantageous to parties because they reduce the time and cost of litigation.


In order to begin the ADR process, prior to the submission of a claim, all parties must consent to participation (with such consent being obtained either before or after an issue in controversy has arisen) and in resolving a formal claim the use of ADR should be coordinated with counsel.[1]


1. Negotiation

In a negotiation, the parties meet to resolve the dispute among themselves. This process is confidential and voluntary, allowing the parties to express their positions freely and control the outcome. Negotiations are best accomplished when the parties consult a lawyer to discuss a settlement on their behalf. A negotiation will allow for creative solutions to the dispute and often provides a win-win outcome for both parties which litigation cannot.


2. Mediation

Mediation allows for the disputing parties to meet with their attorneys in front of a neutral third party. The purpose of the mediator is not to establish a solution for the parties or pick a winning side, but rather to assist the parties in the event of an impasse. The mediator allows the parties to move past their initial positions and discuss their underlying interests by providing a cooperative, non-hostile environment. The process is often recommended for parties who are looking to maintain or rebuild a cordial relationship. Although the outcome is not binding on the parties, it is beneficial because it allows for parties to address the emotional aspects of the dispute.


3. Arbitration

Arbitration is the most formal process of ADR but still remains less formal than a trial. However, the proceeding of arbitration is similar to that of a trial, only without a jury. Instead, the attorneys argue their case in front of a panel of arbitrators. Each side will present witnesses and evidence. The parties enable the arbitrators to have the authority of rendering a binding verdict rather than a jury or a judge. Unlike a verdict obtained through litigation, this opinion is not a public record and cannot be appealed.


Litigation is a long and costly process. The uncertainty of trial looms over the parties for several years. Alternative Dispute Resolution provides fast, amicable remedies.

[1] 48 CFR § 1233.214(c)

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