Posted on: August 20th, 2015 by Charne Symington

Resolving legal disputes in a courtroom is probably the most familiar way known to most people to resolve serious disputes.  This perception can result in people being more prone to resort to this option without considering any alternatives.

The fact remains that litigation, ultimately resulting in a dispute being resolved in a courtroom, is often an expensive, time-consuming and complex option to choose and it is considered prudent to explore other options of resolution when faced with a legal issue.

Alternative dispute resolution refers to any other method of settling disputes than resorting to a courtroom and commonly includes negotiation, mediation and arbitration. Your attorney can assistor guide you in all these processes.

Negotiation can well be applied as a structured, yet informal, method of settling a dispute and coming to an agreement that is acceptable for both parties in a quick and very cost effective manner.

Mediation, the process where a mediator assists parties in communications concerning a dispute with the goal of bringing the parties together in a meeting or process and managing it, is a very effective way of resolving conflict implementing an impartial third party, whilst the parties concerned retain control of the outcome of the situation.  Mediation can be particularly useful in instances where it is important to preserve the relationship between the disputing parties, for example in divorce disputes where there are children involved or a dispute between an employee and employer.  This is a great advantage, considering the irrevocable strain litigation can put on a relationship.

Arbitration is a process where an impartial third party, called an arbitrator decides the submitted issue after reviewing evidence and hearing arguments from the parties.  Arbitrations can be binding on the parties through agreement or by operation of the law.  It can also be advisory of nature, which will give the parties the opportunity to get an objective evaluation from an impartial party of their case without being bound to the recommendation of the impartial party and thus remaining in control of the outcome.  Arbitration will be appropriate in complex matters where the parties would like a decision maker who has adequate knowledge and experience in the subject matter of the dispute.

Alternative dispute resolution is generally a much less costly, time consuming and intimidating option than litigation.  It can place parties in a position to be more actively involved in resolving their own matters privately, whilst understanding the process more, give the disputing parties more control over how their dispute is resolved and are more likely to be beneficial to both parties, unlike litigation where there is an outright winner and an outright loser.

Evaluating the advantages of alternative dispute resolution may, in certain instances, definitely be the better option.  So consider a mind shift and discuss the pros and cons of the various available processes with your attorney rather than maintaining at all costs “I want my day in court!”.

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