Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) includes dispute resolution processes and techniques that act as a means for disagreeing parties to come to an agreement short of litigation. It is a collective term for the ways that parties can settle disputes, with (or without) the help of a third party.
Finally, it is important to realize that conflict resolution is one major goal of all the ADR processes. If a process leads to resolution, it is a dispute resolution process.
The salient features of each type are as follows:
- In negotiation, participation is voluntary and there is or no third party who facilitates the resolution process or imposes a resolution or there is a process facilitator.
- In mediation, there is a third party, a mediator, who facilitates the resolution process (and may even suggest a resolution, typically known as a “mediator’s proposal”), but does not impose a resolution on the parties.
- In collaborative law or collaborative divorce, each party has an attorney who facilitates the resolution process within specifically contracted terms. The parties reach agreement with support of the attorneys (who are trained in the process) and mutually-agreed experts. No one imposes a resolution on the parties. However, the process is a formalized process that is part of the litigation and court system. Rather than being an Alternative Resolution methodology it is a litigation variant that happens to rely on ADR like attitudes and processes.
- In arbitration, participation is typically voluntary, and there is a third party who, as a private judge, imposes a resolution. Arbitrations often occur because parties to contracts agree that any future dispute concerning the agreement will be resolved by arbitration.