Alternative Dispute Resolutions are employed by parties involved in legal disputes as a way to circumvent bring the case to the courts, while also providing for a more beneficial solution to the parties involved. More often than not, ADR options will be primarily considered in disagreements to evaluate the potential of reaching a solution without the need of the judicial system. Three of the most common ADR techniques employed are arbitration, mediation, and summary jury trials.
Arbitration is one of the oldest techniques of ADR, and are typically employed when the subject matter at hand will necessitate a third party overseeing the proceedings that has extensive knowledge on the subject or pertinent experience that will help reach mutually beneficial decision to both parties involved. The third party, known as an arbitrator, essentially serves as a judge to render a decision based on the facts and allegation provided by both parties. However, the arbitrator is to be completely removed from the actual process of both parties in reaching a compromise.
The arbitrator is simply there to provide expert opinion and advice, and help determine any plausible liability and the extent of damages. Paralegal assistance maybe necessary for the involved parties to help with the legal aspects of the proceedings. Arbitration is commonly employed in the commercial disputes, particularly those arising from international transactions. Arbitration can be binding or non-binding.
Another commonly employed ADR technique is mediation. Mediation is similar to arbitration, though in this case, the third party-the mediator-has an active role in the proceedings. The mediator is a neutral party which helps the involved parties negotiate a compromise or agreement. In essence, a mediator helps communicate the arguments of each side in an effective manner so as to structure the negotiations to be mutually beneficial for those involved. The mediator, even though active in the actual process, does not have the authority to render an actual decision in the dispute.
However, the mediator can provide for alternatives and advice to be considered by the opposing parties that may further prove to be beneficial in the final negotiation or settlement. Paralegal assistance may not be as necessary for mediation as it is in other methods of ADR, for the actual process is carried out by the involved parties. However, paralegal assistance may prove to be beneficial in terms of dealing with the involved paperwork and other legal aspects. Mediation is common to be an option for any kind of dispute, for its nature provides for the option to settle out of court before the matter is brought to trial.
Summary jury trial is a relatively new ADR technique when compared to the other methods. It has become a more popular employment of ADR in the sense that it provides a facet that other techniques may not consider in the proceedings–the opinion of a jury. A summary trial essentially is an abbreviated trial that is presented to an actual jury. Litigation procedures that normally occur in court are also used, but simply in a curtailed and timely fashion.
The jury renders a non-binding verdict which allows both parties to preview how their dispute would fair if ever taken to the courts. Typically, the summary jury trial is employed when previous methods of ADR, such as mediation or arbitration, prove not to render a negotiation between both parties. This may occur when the parties are so entrenched and convinced of their case that a settlement would undermine their position.
Furthermore, many will consider taking the matter to trial if they believe that a jury verdict in their favor would prove to be more beneficial than having compromise in a settlement or negotiation. However, the summary jury trial provides for a step to be taken before actually entering the dispute into the judicial courts, and gives a glimpse as to how their case may be tried in a real world situation. Paralegal assistance can be employed with the same intentions as if the case were to be entered in to a real trial.