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What is Alternative Dispute Resolution?

When a disagreement or dispute arises, it is common for the involved parties to end up in court. Business disputes, shareholder disputes, contract disputes and divorces are some of the types of cases where parties may have difficulty resolving their differences and may need to turn to a judge or jury for help.

Unfortunately, court battles can be long, expensive and very stressful for all who are involved. Going to court can garner bad publicity and make private matters public. It can also cause a total breakdown in any remaining semblance of a relationship, since litigation is adversarial by nature.

To avoid these unpleasant consequences associated with litigation, many individuals and businesses choose alternative dispute resolution (ADR) instead. Brown & Charbonneau, LLP is experienced in different types of alternative dispute resolution and our Irvine ADR attorneys can assist you in understanding your options and protecting your rights as you work to resolve differences without involving a judge. Call today to learn more.

Understanding Alternative Dispute Resolution

Alternative dispute resolution is, as the name suggests, an alternative approach to resolving a dispute or disagreement. The word alternative refers to an alternative to courtroom litigation.

There are different types of alternative dispute resolution, which may be appropriate under a variety of different circumstances. Options may include:

  • Mediation: A third party mediator assists the disputing parties in effectively negotiating to come to an agreement. Mediation is usually voluntary and parties can walk away at any time. The goal is to make it possible for the parties to articulate their desires, come to a deeper understanding of effective resolutions and come to an agreement on their own. A mediator does not take sides and all parties must be committed to compromise for mediation to be most effective. Mediation is frequently used to help divorcing couples negotiate a settlement or to resolve problems between partners who are operating a business together.   Usually, the parties can choose who will serve as the mediator.
  • Arbitration: A third party arbitrator hears evidence and arguments from parties involved in the dispute. The arbitrator weighs the information and makes a decision. If the arbitration is “binding arbitration,” the involved parties must abide by the decision, unless there were problems in the arbitration process. In some instances, arbitration is “non-binding,” which means that, if either party is unhappy with the result, the case will proceed in litigation. Arbitration is often used to resolve business disputes. Individuals and companies involved in a disagreement may voluntarily decide to arbitrate their differences or an arbitration clause in a contract may require the dispute be submitted to arbitration.
  • Mock trial. The parties involved will present their evidence in a mock trial to develop a better understanding of how effective their arguments will be to a jury. The goal is to facilitate settlement discussions.

Each of these different approaches to alternative dispute resolution can be a good option under the right circumstances. You will need to carefully consider if alternative dispute resolution is the right choice for you. Brown & Charbonneau, LLP can evaluate your situation and help you to decide what approach is the best strategic option for protecting your rights and receiving the most favorable possible results. Call today to speak with a member of our legal team for help.