Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is an efficient means of resolving disputes. When litigants or potential litigants utilize ADR it avoids expensive and time consuming litigation trials; when individuals, groups, or nations use ADR it avoids civil strife, economic hardship, or even war.
Non-binding arbitrations have been utilized by the
courts since 1978 and are governed by the California
Rules of Court. Generally, these arbitrations are
somewhat informal and if either party does not like
the Arbitrator's award, then the dissatisfied party
simply informs the court by an articulated process and the litigation continues in that case. Occasionally, these judicial arbitrations assist the parties in evaluating the strength and weaknesses of their case and can lead to resolution.
The ADR process also incorporates the use of the ADR specialist as a hearing officer, discovery referee, or a special master.
When used in this capacity the ADR specialist will hear evidence and make determinations on legal or factual issues if the parties are involved in the litigation process or administrative law arena.
Binding Arbitrations are more formal than judicial arbitrations, but still remain more cost effective than civil litigation. As discussed above, some binding arbitrations are mandated by contract and on other occasions parties may simply decide to resolve their conflict by means of binding arbitration.
Mediation is a voluntary process where a skilled mediator discusses the case with the parties and explores the possibility of settlement. The mediator facilitates the negotiation process between the parties so the parties can reach a solution to the problem.