Dispute resolution law has two major types. Adjudicative processes include arbitration and litigation; these involve a judge, jury, or other third party determining the outcome of a dispute between parties. The second type of dispute resolution law is consensual processes, primarily mediation and negotiation; this type involves the parties themselves attempting to come to a mutual agreement without any decisions by a third party being imposed on them. This type of dispute resolution law is sometimes referred to as alternative dispute resolution (ADR), because judges and courts of law are not used in resolving disputes in this manner.
Arbitration is included in ADR because, while a third party does decide the case, that third party is not a judge and no courts of law are used during arbitration proceedings. If parties are in need of an adjudicative process but are trying to avoid formal lawsuit and litigation, arbitration is available. Arbitration proceedings are governed by local and state laws, which can differ from area to area. Arbitration involves a neutral third party who will hear both sides of the issue being arbitrated, decide which party has the stronger case, and then decide the outcome. The decision made by the third party is legally binding and final.
In arbitration proceedings, the deciding third party is typically made up of a tribunal of three people. The disputing parties agree to relinquish to the tribunal members their rights to decide the dispute. While arbitration proceedings appear similar to a typical court hearing and trial, there are a number of differences between arbitration and an actual trial.
Arbitration is more efficient than a trial, or litigation, because less preparation is involved and the arbitration can take place at a mutually agreeable time and place that does not need to be a court of law. There is no right to appeal at an arbitration hearing, so the decision is final. If parties to a dispute wish to maintain their ability to make the final decision on the outcome of their dispute and hope to be able to work out their issues mutually, a consensual process of dispute resolution law should be used.
One of the most common forms of consensual processes of dispute resolution law is mediation. Mediation is a completely voluntary proceeding that can be ended at any time by either party. At mediation, both parties speak to each other about whatever dispute they are having and their conversation is helped along by a professional, neutral and impartial mediator.
The goal of mediation is to have each party be able to express his views, opinions, and hopes for the outcome of the dispute. Each party is given time to speak and time to respond to each other. The mediator will help by suggesting different levels of compromise and will work with both parties to try to come to a successful agreement to solve the issue. Whatever form of dispute resolution law is used, the intended outcome is for the problem to be solved, either by mutual decisions made by the parties to the dispute, or by the final decision of a judge in a court of law.