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What is ADR?

> Choosing ADR instead of litigation
> Forms of ADR offered by the Court 
> When is Mediation Appropriate?
> When is Arbitration Appropriate?

ADR is the general term for a wide variety of dispute resolution processes that are alternatives to litigation. Types of ADR processes include mediation, arbitration and settlement conferences, among other forms.

What are the advantages of choosing ADR instead of litigation?

  • ADR can save time. A dispute can be resolved in a matter of months, or even weeks, while litigation can take years.

  • ADR can save money. Attorneys' fees, court costs, and expert fees can be reduced or avoided altogether.

  • ADR provides more participation. Parties have more opportunities with ADR to express their interest and concerns, instead of focusing exclusively on legal rights.

  • ADR provides more control and flexibility. Parties can choose the ADR process that is most likely to bring a satisfactory resolution to their dispute.

  • ADR can reduce stress. ADR encourages cooperation and communication, while discouraging the adversarial atmosphere of litigation. Surveys of parties who have participated in an ADR process have found much greater satisfaction than with parties who have gone through litigation.

What are the main forms of ADR offered by the Court?

  • Mediation is an informal, confidential process in which a neutral party (the mediator) assists the parties in understanding their own interests, the interests of the other parties, and the practical and legal realities they all face. The mediator then helps the parties to explore options and arrive at a mutual acceptable resolution of the dispute. The mediator does not decide the dispute, the parties do.

When is Mediation Appropriate?

  • The parties want a no adversary procedure;

  • The parties have a continuing business or personal relationship;

  • Communication problems are interfering with a resolution;

  • There is an emotional element involved;

  • The parties are interested in an injunction, consent decree, or other form of equitable relief.
  • Arbitration is normally an informal process in which the neutral (the arbitrator) decides the dispute after hearing the evidence and arguments of the parties. The parties can agree to binding or non-binding arbitration. Binding arbitration is designed to give the parties a resolution of their dispute when they cannot agree between themselves or with a mediator. If the arbitration is non-binding, any party can reject the arbitrator's decision and request a trial.

  • The court has a binder containing resumes of mediators with both specialized training and experience. This binder is available from the Superior Court Clerk, Law Library and Arbitration Administrator. It is also available on line by clicking here .

When is Arbitration Appropriate?

  • The action is for personal injury, property damage, or breach of contract;

  • Only monetary damages are sought;

  • Witness testimony, under oath, is desired;

  • An advisory opinion is sought from an experienced litigator (if a non-binding arbitration).