What is alternative dispute resolution?

Alternative dispute resolution takes several forms. It is an alternative to the traditional form of dispute resolution, which is simply to permit a judge or a jury to make the final decision.  The alternative dispute resolution procedure which facilitates settlements is called mediation. It is a method in part of facilitating discussion of a case’s merits and demerits to seek resolution of cases by the parties. Mediation involves appearing before an impartial third party, usually a lawyer, who has, as his or her only goal, the settlement or resolution of that dispute. Another form of dispute resolution is one which does not involve settlement, but involves a different method of having a third party make a decision. Instead of a judge or a jury, an arbitrator can be appointed by the parties to a case to make the decision about the final outcome of a case. An arbitrator is empowered to make that final decision and to assess damages as part of it. The decision of an arbitrator is much less reviewable than the decision of a court. Essentially, an arbitrator’s decision can only be reversed for lack of good faith or fraud or conflict of interest. But it is quicker and less time consuming for both parties.