“See you in court” . . . Really!?
Disputes are inevitable facts of life: broken promises, failed expectations, or just disagreements over agreements! They can cause disruption in relationships and business dealings, sever bonds of friendship and trust, and often lead to destructive wars in court. Our courts are seriously overloaded and increasingly failing to deliver justice to frustrated litigants. Using alternatives to court litigation may just be the right course of action for your specific needs!
COURT LITIGATION VERSUS OUT-OF-COURT RESOLUTION
Try to envision being a party to a law suit! Write down the first few words that come to your mind. Now, compare your list with the one I compiled: expensive, protracted, hostile, intense, intimidating and frustrating. Protracted court litigation can often exhaust financial resources and emotional reserves before the case even gets to trial!
Now, imagine a setting where you have control over the cost, duration and intensity of the process, freedom of choice in selecting your judge or dispute resolution professional, and most importantly, a wide range of options and control over the outcome.
With serious budget cuts and shortage of judges, Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is becoming the new norm for resolving disputes. The most typical form of ADR is a Mediation or Arbitration, where parties voluntarily, or through a contractual agreement or by a court order, select a dispute resolution professional as a neutral judge or Mediator. The sessions are held in non-intimidating and private settings. Arbitrations resemble the adversarial process in that the Neutral acts as a judge or the finder of facts, who issues an award based on the evidence presented by the parties (the award can be binding or non- binding depending on the circumstances of the case). In Mediation, however, the Neutral acts as a facilitator and skillfully assists the parties in reaching a resolution, without ever issuing an award. Instead, it is the parties’ agreement reached in Mediation that can be documented into an enforceable and binding order of the court.
So, next time you are tempted to invite someone to “See you in court,” think twice and be sure to investigate and consider all of your dispute resolution options.