Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is a collection of mechanisms through which parties can resolve disputes without going to court. They take a few basic forms, including mediation, arbitration, and negotiated settlement.
Mediation is a process by which a neutral third party acts as a go-between for the parties to a disagreement. The mediator does 00004000 not make any decisions for them. He or she simply facilitates a negotiated agreement. The mediator is not as personally or emotionally involved in the case as the parties. For this reason, he or she can usually look at the issues more objectively, and help the parties reach an agreement.
The mediator will sometimes keep the parties separate, and relay their proposals to one another. This allows offers and counteroffers to be presented in an objective, dispassionate manner, with irrelevant accusations, emotions, and facts filtered out. With mediation, it is up to the parties to come up with an agreement amongst themselves. If they are not willing to negotiate, the mediator can do nothing to help them. For this reason, mediation is not a good idea for parties who are unwilling to make any concessions in pursuit of an agreement that they both can live with.
With arbitration, a private third party conducts a proceeding that is similar in many respects to a trial: they hear evidence and arguments, and then make a binding decision. Compared to a trial in a court of law, the procedure is simple, and the rules of evidence are relaxed. Furthermore, private arbitration firms usually employ arbitrators who are experts in many different fields. With a case involving highly complex or technical issues that would only be understood by people in the relevant industry, a great deal of time needs to be spent educating the judge and jury, simply so they can make an informed decision. If the arbitrator has a background in the relevant field, much less time needs to be spent on this, and they can go directly to resolving the dispute.