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In society, no matter how much we seek to avoid conflict and dispute, sometimes it’s impossible to reach an amicable resolution. Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is a neutral legal process designed to meet the needs of parties in dispute, without a court trial. ADR takes action and get results in disputes that include mediation, evaluation, conciliation and arbitration.

Conflict ResolutionThe meetings to resolved disputes out of court can take place in a variety of settings, such as a public congregational hall, hotel conference centers, the lawyer’s office meeting room, and in today’s technically advanced environment, it is possible to assemble parties from both sides via virtual conference using apps such as Microsoft Live Meeting Cloud and Skype.

Resolution is the foundation of meeting with both parties in dispute to provide sound legal advice to facilitate an end to the grievance. The types of cases that go to ADR include employee workplace complaints, disagreements or an accusation of impropriety or wrong doing. The overall goal is to come to a decision that effectively resolves the dispute in a timely manner. Besides avoiding the implication of a court trial and an assigned jury decision, there can be less costs involved in using a neutral mediator.

The mediator meets with both parties and discusses the disagreement and gathers preliminary information about the specifics of what lead to the original dispute. He/she seeks to understand exactly what is involved in the situation that lead them to being unable to reach some sort of conclusion or a decision about the matter. At this initial meeting, each party is allowed to ask questions without penalty or threat of punishment. The ADR process is explained and exactly what each party can expect as the outcome of mediation.

The ADR process does not include a court trial or immunity from prosecution. Usually there isn’t a criminal element involved in the mediation process. The mediator establishes the case, based on the participants and what will be discussed regarding the disagreement. There is also a confidentiality clause just as in any standard legal proceeding, which protects the rights of each party, as it’s mutually agreed that what is discussed remains private. The ground rules typically include not interrupting the other party when they are speaking and no fighting, bickering, whining or complaining during the informal proceedings.

After the initial meeting, each party is separated to discuss the disagreement in private with the mediator. Although, the mediator is a neutral entity, as a legal fact finding process, he or she will usually portray the role as the ‘devil’s advocate’ to determine the focus of the dispute in question. It is believed with this tactic that each party will convey diverse opinions as to what lead to the development of the disagreement.

alternative-dispute-resolutionLet’s recap the objectives of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR):

Disagreement-Two parties have a point of dissension, they can’t mutually agree on an acceptable outcome.

Decision to Use A Third Party Mediator- When a resolution isn’t possible and the parties would like to avoid a court trial. They both agree to try arbitration to find a decision that both participants could find acceptable.

Neutral Mediator Is Assigned to Review The Case- Mediation is undertaken with initial meeting to discuss the dispute and examine both sides of the argument. Both parties may bring legal counsel to the meeting. The lawyer/lawyers are present during preliminary case review.

Costs Analysis- Both parties in dispute are informed of the costs involved. Costs could include direct payment to one of more of the participants, intangible costs related to equipment provided to settle the dispute, meeting rooms rental (if necessary), emotional and intangible costs, usually non-physical injury.

Resolution- There is an outcome that both participants believe that they can live with as an acceptable outcome. The disagreement is effectively resolved with the mediator listing the details and not acting as a decision making authority. The provisions of the resolution are drawn up as a written agreement with both parties witnessing the agreement and providing signatures, concluding the mediation.