Alternative Dispute Resolution (“ADR”) affords the parties to a dispute the ability to control their destiny in a private, confidential setting. Once a dispute proceeds to court the case issues most likely will be decided by a third party, in the form of a judge or jury, and the matters at issue will, with rare exception, become public record.
ADR generally takes two forms: Mediation and Arbitration.
Regardless of the level of complexity of the issues involved, or the level of hostility between the parties, the overwhelming majority of the many cases Spector & Bennett has taken to mediation have settled, most often during a one day session. Mediation generally involves a trained neutral engaging in “shuttle diplomacy”, meeting with the parties in separate rooms until a resolution is fashioned. It is often said that a successful mediation is one where the participants are each displeased with the settlement terms. However, the value of putting the time, energy and cost of a dispute behind the parties is usually incalculable.
In arbitration the parties engage the services of a “private judge”, usually a retired judge or an attorney (sometimes a panel of three), to adjudicate their dispute. Arbitration is often a way to reduce the time and expense attendant to traditional litigation, to the extent the participants agree to streamline the adjudication process. However, in a hard-fought and/or complex dispute, arbitration can be as expensive or more costly than traditional litigation, especially when factoring in the cost of the arbitrator.
Arbitration is most effective when the parties have agreed, upon the commencement of their business relationship, as part-and-parcel of transaction documentation, or even after a dispute has arisen, to resolve their differences in a quick and efficient manner. In these types of situations, the cost and time savings can be extraordinary.