Sometimes, going to court is not the most preferred option for either party to a dispute. The parties may want to consider alternative dispute resolution when this is the case. 

What is alternative dispute resolution? It is a process used to settle disputes outside of the court system. Each process is flexible and can be combined with other dispute processes. 

Most commonly, alternative dispute resolution is a legal process where the parties to a dispute agree to use a third-party specialist who agrees to hear both sides and may analyze the facts, apply appropriate law or regulation and render a decision depending on the process chosen. 

However, different iterations sometimes don’t involve a neutral third party. Usually, these processes are much faster than going to court and offer an excellent alternative for parties that may not want to take on the legal costs of going to court. Read on to understand more about alternative dispute resolution.

What are the different types of alternative dispute resolution?

Definitions and usage vary, but alternative dispute resolution generally includes negotiation, mediation, and arbitration.

Negotiation is when two parties meet to discuss their issues and devise a solution that works for both of them. For example, if you have a problem with your landlord about your apartment, you could negotiate with them one-on-one.

Mediation is when somebody listens to arguments from both sides and helps them resolve their differences. It’s usually done by an impartial third party who does not take sides or give legal advice. For example, if you were in an accident where someone else was at fault, a mediator might help you work things out with that person’s insurance company so that neither party has to go through a lawsuit. Mediation does not tend to be binding unless the parties agree to it.

Arbitration is similar to mediation but involves an arbitrator who makes decisions instead of helping parties come up with solutions independently. Arbitration also takes place outside of courtrooms and allows parties to remain anonymous throughout the process so they don’t feel like they’re being judged by others who may not understand what happened between them. Decisions made in arbitration are binding on the parties.

What are the benefits of using alternative dispute resolution?

Alternative dispute resolution has many benefits for those who opt for this dispute resolution method. Some of these benefits include:

  • Disputes can be resolved faster.
  • Disputes can be resolved for less money.
  • Disputes can be resolved confidentially.
  • Disputes can be resolved in a way that is tailored to each party’s individual needs.
  • Disputes crossing multiple jurisdictions can be resolved in a simpler process.
  • Disputes can be resolved in a way that does not negatively affect pre-existing business relationships.

Is the use of alternative dispute resolution a requirement before going to court?

The use of alternative dispute resolution is not a requirement before going to court. However, it may be good to consider it depending on the circumstances of your case seriously. Choose a dispute resolution process that works for your case by gathering information about the different alternative dispute resolution processes available to you and then deciding which one best suits your needs. While it is possible to suggest alternative dispute resolution for most matters independently, also note that certain laws have the option of mediation or arbitration. Consult with your lawyer on your options and what they may look like in practice.

Who pays for alternative dispute resolution?

As with any service, the cost of alternative dispute resolution depends on the service provided. Some services are more expensive than others, and some can be provided at no cost. For instance, if you are negotiating absent legal representation, it can be carried out without any cost at all. 

Parties usually share the mediation fees. They may pay for their own legal representation and split the mediator’s fees. However, certain processes provide mediation services without cost. For instance, the Federal Court can sometimes provide parties with access to a mediator.

When it comes to arbitration, the person who pays the fees depends on the arbitration agreement between the parties, the policy of the body conducting the arbitration, or the law that provides access to arbitration. For instance, arbitration with Industry Canada holds parties jointly and severally responsible for arbitration fees.

Do parties ever have a second chance at going to court after trying alternative dispute resolution fails?

Yes, parties can take their dispute to court if alternative dispute resolution fails. Suppose the case is brought to court after an unsuccessful attempt at alternative dispute resolution. In that case, the court may consider the failure of alternative dispute resolution when determining whether or not to award legal costs.

Are there any disadvantages to alternative dispute resolution?

Alternative dispute resolution may not be for you, depending on your needs and goals in a given dispute. That is why it’s essential to understand each process before committing to undergoing it. 

For instance, if you would like a better opportunity to review evidence on the other side, alternative dispute resolution may not be for you. This is because the discovery process is limited compared to court in that there are fewer protections for both parties compared to litigation. If you want to guarantee that a decision is made, processes like mediation or negotiation may not be ideal as they do not require the matter to be resolved. Many of these disadvantages can be avoided, however, if you speak with an alternative dispute resolution professional who can help you select a process that is best for you.

Looking to Avoid Court? Contact the Lawyers at Tierney Stauffer LLP to Learn About Your Options for Alternative Dispute Resolution

Contact the lawyers at Tierney Stauffer LLP if you would like to explore your options to pursue a matter through alternative dispute resolution or require the services of a professional mediator or arbitrator. Our firm has a vast amount of experience representing clients in alternative dispute resolution and we offer highly experienced professional mediation and arbitration services as well. Call us at 1-888-799-8057 or contact us online to discuss your matter with an experienced lawyer.

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