Arbitration, Mediation Provide Alternatives
There are good reasons for avoiding courts. Courts are only one resource for resolving disputes. There are other mechanisms available that are less formal and often preferable.
Alternative dispute resolution, or ADR, is the term used to describe non-judicial methods available for resolving disputes. The two most popular ADR systems are arbitration and mediation. Both are growing in popularity as a means of avoiding trials and many of the formalities inherent in the judicial system.
Mediation is an informal process in which an impartial, trained professional, or mediator, helps disputing parties reach an agreement. The mediator assists in clarifying the important facts and issues. A mediator does not play the role of a judge. He or she will not make a ruling on any issue or on the final outcome to be achieved. The parties themselves control the final settlement.
The State Bar of Arizona suggests that mediation is especially appropriate for cases where there is a continuing relationship, such as disputes between neighbors, family members, employer and employee, and landlord and tenant.
Mediation is not limited to minor, or non-economic, claims. Major economic disputes, including construction disputes, property-damage claims and personal injury cases, also may be mediated.
Because the mediation process is private and confidential, it is particularly well suited for dispute resolution involving sensitive matters of family relationships and business secrets.
Arbitration is similar to the court system, although it is more informal. In most cases, it is much faster and less expensive than using the judicial system.
An impartial arbitrator is selected by the disputing parties. He or she conducts an informal hearing at which the parties and other witnesses may testify. Documents or other things that may help decide the matter may be presented to the arbitrator. The arbitrator then makes a decision, much as a judge or jury would after a trial.
Arbitration can be used to resolve many consumer complaints, property-damage and accident injury claims, and business, commercial and employment disputes.
If you would like more information about ADR, contact the State Bar of Arizona or look under "Mediation Service" or "Arbitration Service" in the Yellow Pages.