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What is Dispute Resolution?

Saturday, January, 15, 2011

Dispute resolution refers to a series of procedures that help disagreeing parties reach an agreement, before having to go to court. This type of mediation is a good alternative to court because of the high expenses involved in court settlements. There are three primary methods of dispute resolution procedures, which are outlined below.


Mediation involves a third party, the mediator, who functions independently and assists the two parties concerned in order to reach a suitable resolution. These mediators are trained in helping both parties negotiate their own settlement. Mediators may express a view on what might be a fair or reasonable settlement; however, they cannot impose solutions on either of the two parties because they do not possess the authority to do so. In the case of a successful dispute resolution, the parties sign a mediation agreement, which is legally enforceable. If an agreement cannot be reached then the parties can take the dispute forward in court.


Arbitration is a legal dispute resolution technique where both parties decide to mutually participate outside the courts before the dispute arises. Several contracts even stipulate that disputes arising from within the contract should be arbitrated. Arbitration can be either mandatory or voluntary, but both parties must present their case to a neutral person, also known as an arbitrator, who will hear the case and issue a final decision. Arbitration cases are more time efficient and cheaper compared to court cases and formal litigations. Hence, arbitration resolution is a more affordable alternative.

Collaborative Law

Collaborative law is typically used within the context of family law. This method is a voluntary process that is used as an option rather than divorce litigation. Instead of taking the issue to court, the couple amicably settles their disputes with outside consultants and attorneys. Unlike the other two forms of dispute resolution where there is an unbiased, third party involved, in collaborative law there is no such entity or individual. Compared to the other types of dispute resolution, collaborative law is quite nascent in the U.S. and is not as commonly used. However, this method promises great potential in being able to settle family conflicts.

How to Choose

All the above-mentioned dispute resolution techniques have their own pros and cons. Various factors such as time, expenses as well as individual control afforded in each type of resolution need to be considered. The choice of an appropriate form of conflict resolution should only happen after consultation with an attorney with experience in dispute resolution services. As an example, a dispute for an issue associated with employee law needs an attorney who has experience within the segment of labor disputes. Several instances might necessitate other forms of resolution techniques to prevent expenses, legal issues, and time or money, which is often needed for formal litigation. Remember, not all disputes, even those that involve skilled professionals, end in resolution. The lower expenses, flexibility and faster processing of cases make dispute resolution a sought-after option by many individuals these days.