What Is ADR?
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) refers to any one or a combination of processes or methods of resolving disputes other than litigation. They include the following:
Mediation is a forum in which an impartial person, the mediator, facilitates communication between parties to promote reconciliation, settlement, or understanding among them. A mediator may not impose his own judgment on the issues for that of the parties.
Arbitration is a forum in which each party and counsel for the party present the position of the party before an impartial third party (or a panel of three arbitrators), who renders a specific award. If the parties stipulate in advance, the award is binding and is enforceable in the same manner as any contract obligation. If the parties do not stipulate in advance that the award is binding, the award is not binding and serves only as a basis for the parties' further settlement negotiations.
Mini-trial is conducted under an agreement of the parties. Each party and counsel for the party present the position of the party, either before selected representatives for each party or before an impartial third party, to define the issues and develop a basis for realistic settlement negotiations. The impartial third party may issue an advisory opinion regarding the merits of the case. The advisory opinion is not binding on the parties unless the parties agree that it is binding and enter into a written settlement agreement.
Moderated Settlement Conference is a forum for case evaluation and realistic settlement negotiations. Each party and counsel for the party present the position of the party before a panel of impartial third parties. The panel may issue an advisory opinion regarding the liability or damages of the parties or both. The advisory opinion is not binding on the parties.
Summary jury trial is a forum for early case evaluation and development of realistic settlement negotiations. Each party and counsel for the party present the position of the party before a panel of jurors. The number of jurors on the panel is six unless the parties agree otherwise. The panel may issue an advisory opinion regarding the liability or damages of the parties or both. The advisory opinion is not binding on the parties.
Trial by Special Judge. On agreement of the parties, in a civil or family law matter pending in a district court, statutory probate court, or statutory county court, the judge in whose court the case is pending may order referral of the case and stay proceedings in the judge's court pending the outcome of the trial. Any or all of the issues in the case, whether an issue of fact or law, may be referred. Rules and statutes relating to procedure and evidence in the referring judge's court apply. A special judge shall conduct the trial in the same manner as a court trying an issue without a jury. While serving as a special judge, the special judge has the powers of the referring judge except that the special judge may not hold a person in contempt of court unless the person is a witness before the special judge.
Arb-Med is a hybrid ADR process that combines the features of both mediation and arbitration. First, an agreed amount of time is devoted to the arbitration. After the positions of the parties have been presented, the impartial third party (the arbitrator) makes a written award but does not present it to the parties. The parties then attempt to reach a mediated settlement agreement within the remaining time allotted for the arb-med. If the mediation produces an agreement, then the arbitrator destroys the written award without disclosing it to the parties. If the mediation does not result in an agreement among the parties, then the award is presented to the parties.
Med-arb is another hybrid like arb-med, except that the process begins with mediation and only shifts to arbitration if the parties are unable to reach a mediated settlement agreement within the agreed allotted time.