Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

Most people solve their legal problems without a trial. “ADR” can help.

What is ADR?

ADR (“Alternative Dispute Resolution”) is a way to solve legal problems without going through trial. Two examples are Arbitration and Mediation.

Arbitration:

Arbitration is like a trial, but it is less formal. It takes place in an office, not a courtroom. The parties (people with a legal dispute) present their evidence to an “arbitrator.” The arbitrator decides who wins the case and how much they win. There are two kinds of arbitration. “Binding” arbitration means that the arbitrator’s decision is final. There is no appeal or trial after that decision. “Nonbinding” arbitration means that after the arbitration, either party can request a trial. But if the party who requests the trial gets a worse decision at trial, there may be penalties.

Mediation:

Mediation is nothing like a trial. The parties meet with a mediator in an office. The mediator may meet with the parties separately or together. The mediator listens to all the parties and tries to help them work out a solution that works for everyone. The mediator does not make a decision and does not talk to the judge about the case. If the parties cannot agree on a solution, the case can go to trial.

There are many advantages to Mediation:  

  • Mediation saves time: Your dispute may be resolved in less time than it takes to proceed through court;
  • Mediation saves money: The number of trips to court are reduced, saving time and money;
  • Mediation encourages cooperation: The parties can work together, with the help of the mediator, to resolve their case in a way that makes sense to them;
  • Mediation can reduce stress: Mediation is informal, and saves time and money.  There are fewer court appearances required and the dispute can be resolved sooner, so you don’t have an unresolved dispute hanging over your head for years; 
  • Mediation encourages participation: In mediation, the parties have more opportunity to tell their side of the story;
  • Mediation can be more satisfying: In mediation, the parties have more control over the outcome of the dispute.  

For more information or to locate ADR programs:

© 2011 Superior Court of California, County of Riverside