If Only Tiger Woods Could Have Resolved His Issues Through ADR

2 Sep

Resolving a dispute is never easy, but there are options available that could mitigate some of the not-so-pleasant aspects of a trial and avoid litigation. Simply put, Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is a means of resolving matters without formally litigating the case in front of a judge or jury. It allows parties to choose a method of resolution that they feel comfortable with and that is most appropriate for their situation (mediation, arbitration, collaborative law, etc.). Parties can use ADR to resolve disputes in a variety of areas, including family law, employment law, real estate or consumer and business settings among others.

The various forms of ADR can give the parties differing degrees of control over the outcome, with mediation and collaborative law providing the most and arbitration the least.  In mediation instead of letting a judge or jury decide their fate, the parties work with a trained “neutral” that they have selected and who will assist them in trying to come to an agreement. This gives the parties to the dispute the opportunity to be creative and work to find a resolution they can live with in the end.  Given that mediation and collaborative law involve the direct participation of the disputing parties, it can lead not only to increased satisfaction with the outcome but the parties may be more likely to comply with the agreement they have reached.  Because mediation and collaborative law are also a more “user-friendly” way to resolve a dispute, this may enable the parties to preserve their relationship with one another, which is especially important in family law situations.

Another advantage of mediation and collaborative law is that the parties can customize the settlement provisions of their dispute as long as the parties agree to those specific terms. The parties might, for example, agree to keep the dispute confidential and not make disparaging comments about each other in relation to the dispute and after the process is complete.

Since ADR is not a matter of public record nor is it open to the public, the process and the outcome of a dispute can stay confidential. This could be a big plus for companies trying to protect trade secrets, or anyone trying to keep his or her private life private and stay out of the media spotlight.

Another factor to consider is that ADR typically takes significantly less time. Backlogged courtrooms can have you waiting a year or more for your case to be heard.  Unlike a court hearing where the parties are assigned a date and time to show up and litigate their case,  the parties also have some say over the scheduling process for ADR.  Likewise, the parties can more quickly set a date with ADR and once a date has been selected the process can be completed in as little as one day. 

Rule 114.01 of the Minnesota General Rules of Practice requires ADR in civil cases.  In other words, all parties to a civil lawsuit must participate in some form of ADR in attempt to resolve their dispute.  It may make sense for parties to try ADR even before initiating a lawsuit in order to save on the emotional toll and often drawn out process of preparing for a trial.  In general, parties do not conduct discovery or take depositions as part of the ADR process.  The time and money savings from avoiding extensive discovery and depositions could make it worth trying to resolve a dispute earlier through ADR rather than later in court.

Although ADR isn’t the right fit for every individual or every case, it is a viable option to consider if you are involved in a dispute.  To determine whether litigation or some form of ADR is the best fit for your situation, you should talk with a lawyer.  To learn more about the ADR services that Thomsen & Nybeck, P.A. offers, you can visit http://www.tn-law.com/CM/PracticeAreaDescriptions/Alternative-Dispute-Resolution.asp.

This blog entry is written by Deb Newel, an Associate in the Litigation Practice Group at Thomsen & Nybeck, P.A.  Deb concentrates her practice primarily in the areas of general civil litigation, real estate litigation, insurance litigation, construction litigation and townhome and condominium law.


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