What is Alternate Dispute Resolution?
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is any method besides litigation for settling disputes. These programs can be voluntary or mandatory. Decisions arrived by such methods may be reviewed by a court for validity, but typically are upheld if both sides agreed to abide by the alternative method. The major types are negotiation, mediation, arbitration, neutral evaluation and conciliation.
Negotiation, the pre-eminent form of ADR, lets the two sides meet to resolve a dispute, allowing them to control the process as well as the solution. Mediation involves trained negotiators who bring the two sides together and try working out an agreement.
Arbitration is a simpler version of a court trial, with simplified evidentiary rules and limited discovery, in front of either one person or a three-person panel. The hearings can last up to a week and the results are not public records.