The legal system offers alternatives to litigation that can be less costly and time-consuming. Learn more about these processes and techniques, including mediation, arbitration, settlement conferences, and neutral evaluation.
Many cases involve complicated issues and competing interests. For example, the conflict between a tenant and landlord may involve multiple individuals with varying perspectives. Likewise, the controversy between an employer and employee may involve numerous departments or divisions within the company. This is why alternative dispute resolutions (ADR) have become increasingly popular as a way to settle complex disputes that might otherwise result in lawsuits.
ADR consists of any process or technique for resolving conflicts without litigation. This includes negotiation, mediation, conciliation, arbitration and private judging. The process of ADR enables disputing parties to resolve a conflict using a framework and allow them to work together to achieve a mutually acceptable solution that meets their specific needs and objectives.
In 1996 Congress passed the Administrative Dispute Resolution Act (ADRA) which requires federal agencies to promote and use ADR, designate a senior official as a dispute resolution specialist, and adopt agency specific ADR policies. OIG has created a pilot ADR program that focuses on whistleblower retaliation complaints.
Mediation, arbitration and med-arb are the most common ADR methods for civil disputes, but there is also an ombuds office, minitrials and neutral evaluation. These ADR processes are often billed as time- and money-saving for consumers. However, these alternatives aren’t always the right route to pursue for every dispute. In some instances, litigation is the best option. alternative dispute resolutions