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What is Alternative Dispute Resolution?

Court systems overburdened with lawsuits opened the door to alternative dispute resolution to lighten their dockets. Also, litigants looked for more practical, cost-effective approaches where they could resolve issues outside of court and avoid the cost, time and adversarial factors inherent to litigation.

Mediation and Arbitration

Cornell University Law School defines alternative dispute resolution (ADR) as any method of resolving disputes other than by litigation. Mediation and arbitration are the most common forms of ADR. They follow specific procedures and differ in their approaches. Mediation uses a neutral third party to facilitate communication and reach a settlement between parties. It is an informal process where parties often meet separately with the mediator and then afterward meet together to discuss issues and find a common ground for settlement. The mediator does not rule or make decisions but instead encourages parties to resolves their issues by arriving at their own agreement.

By comparison, arbitration is a formal process, bearing greater similarity to a court proceeding although it is less rigid. The arbitrator or panel of arbitrators listen to opposing parties present their sides of the dispute. After considering evidence from both parties, the arbitrators render a decision that can be binding or non-binding depending on the terms established beforehand. When the arbitration is binding, the decision can only be changed under very limited circumstances.

Mediation and arbitration are both confidential processes which provide an advantage for parties that wish to keep their matters private. Court proceedings, by comparison, are public matters.

A Maine mediation attorney can help opposing parties find common ground and resolve issues quickly through mediation.

For effective legal guidance using alternative dispute resolution

Shaheen & Gordon, P.A. offers clients alternative dispute resolution through mediation and arbitration to help avoid the courtroom. Our attorneys have extensive experience and have successfully resolved more than 1,000 cases through mediation.