The Case for Alternative Dispute Resolution in a Changing World
Gunfight at the OK Corral. Stepping outside at the local watering hole. Settling differences of opinion at the playground after school. All of these are crude but actual means by which people have resolved their disputes over the years.
When someone spills a drink on another patron in a bar, the two disputants will rarely issue pleadings, set down discoveries, answer interrogatories and then proceed to trial. Why? Because it would take too long (and involve a higher degree of sobriety) to solve the problem that way and it wouldn’t be practical. Settling the score via fisticuffs in the back alley provides a speedier method of resolution to the wayward cocktail.
imilarly, when two parties to a legal dispute consider their resolution options, modern business cannot always wait for the court process to awake from it’s slumber, stretch its wings and take flight. By the time it does, valuable time, money and in many cases, relationships, may have been irreparably wasted. Alternative Dispute Resolution must be considered as a means to avoiding such a result.
Consider the example of a construction dispute in a multi-million dollar project. It is simply not practical or economically feasible for a contractor and sub-contractor to down tools for one, two or more years to solve their differences arising from the project. Reality dictates that the project needs to stay on track. Enter the Arbitration process. The parties are at liberty to design the Arbitration process, choose an Arbitrator, submit the dispute to him or her and seek a resolution quickly thus allowing them to move on and get back to the project saving time and money.
Alternative Dispute Resolution can also be used as a form of dispute avoidance. In many disputes, a lack of communication is often the root of the problem. Once the problem arises, parties often stop talking, opting to engage the services of lawyers and digging into their positions.
In mediation, a crucial aspect that mediators will focus on is communication and encouraging the parties to talk and listen to one another. The expression “Communication is Key” applies in this method of dispute resolution. Not only does it provide the parties with a means of avoiding time consuming litigation, but it also serves to preserve valuable working relationships into the future.
The world is changing rapidly. Technology that seems unthinkable one year, is out of date the next. With this pace of change comes an expectation that virtually everything in society must happen quickly and that applies equally to dispute resolution. This expectation simply cannot be met by the courts. Despite ongoing efforts to update court rules and to streamline court process, parties to disputes continue to look away from the courts for assistance.
Alternative Dispute Resolution, whether in the form of Arbitration or Mediation, provides the best avenue for parties to disputes to solve them quickly, efficiently and more practically than that offered by the courts.
It’s also better than a sore jaw and a chat with local law enforcement.