Alternative Dispute Resolutions

Alternative dispute resolutions (ADR) offer an opportunity to resolve conflicts without going to court. They’re increasingly used because they save time, reduce costs and stress, and encourage more creative solutions.

The most common forms of ADR are mediation and arbitration. They’re often more informal than a trial and may be binding or non-binding.

One of the most popular alternative dispute resolution methods, mediation is a process in which a neutral person helps disputing parties find solutions to their disagreement. The neutral person, known as a mediator, may suggest a solution but typically does not impose a resolution. The mediation process is generally less formal and time consuming than a trial and more flexible than arbitration.

A mediator will usually meet with each party in private sessions to discuss potential avenues for resolution. During these sessions, the mediator will ask the parties questions to help them think more broadly about their case and to identify possible avenues for resolution.

The OSC’s ADR Program offers mediation to resolve selected prohibited personnel practice (PPP) and USERRA complaints. The process is free and confidential, and participants are welcome to bring their lawyers. More information about the program is available on our website.

Arbitration, like conciliation and mediation, is a way to settle disputes without going to court. In arbitration, you and the party you’re disputing with each put your side of the story to an independent arbitrator who makes a decision. Unlike mediation, however, the decisions made in arbitration are binding.

An alternative to traditional litigation, arbitration is faster and less expensive than court proceedings. A lawyer can help you understand your rights and obligations under the arbitration process.

The neutral arbitrator decides your case by listening to evidence presented by you and the other party, then making a decision. Generally, you can present physical evidence at the hearing and bring witnesses to testify on your behalf. If you have trouble locating witnesses, you can ask the arbitrator to issue subpoenas. If you disagree with the arbitrator’s decision, you can make an appeal in court.

Conciliation is a process where the parties to a dispute meet with a neutral person, called a conciliator, both separately and together in an attempt to resolve their differences. A conciliator may have professional expertise in the subject matter of a dispute and will usually provide advice about possible solutions. However, unlike arbitration, conciliation is not legally binding.

A conciliator can be a lawyer or any other person with experience in conflict resolution. The participants can usually bring their lawyers to a conciliation and experts may also be present. However, it is important that you are committed to the conciliation date and time as rescheduling can be difficult.

The conciliation process is generally cheaper, less stressful and quicker than a court case. It is also confidential and private. This means that anything said or discussed in a conciliation conference cannot be used as evidence in any future legal proceedings. This is a big advantage over going to court.

Judgment is a final decision, spelled out in court documents, that settles a dispute by determining the rights and obligations of the parties. It may include monetary compensation and/or property transfers and other requirements, such as orders to follow procedures or carry out tasks.

The NYS Unified Court System is committed to encouraging the use of alternative dispute resolution methods in all actions and proceedings in Surrogate’s Court. These include mediation, arbitration, neutral evaluation and in-court settlement practices and summary jury trial.

ADR usually results in a quicker resolution of the matter, which helps both parties get back to business more quickly. It is also less expensive than traditional litigation. It can also help preserve and even improve relationships between parties, if the parties are willing to discuss their issues in good faith. The process is typically confidential, which can help protect sensitive documents and trade secrets. It also can limit hostility between the parties, which is often exacerbated by a rushed or adversarial approach in a courtroom setting.

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