Alternative Dispute Resolution: What is it?

Real Estate Law

People often think that when you have a legal dispute, the only way to resolve it is to go to trial. They picture themselves on the witness stand, getting their “day in court,” pouring out their story to the judge and a sympathetic jury…

While litigation has its place, it can be very stressful, time-consuming and expensive.

Besides, there is another way.

That’s what alternative dispute resolution (“ADR”) is all about.

What is Alternative Dispute Resolution?

Given the backlog of cases in the court system, like a number of states, Georgia encourages the use of alternatives to traditional litigation. ADR helps resolve cases faster and less expensively than traditional litigation; freeing the courts to decide those cases that cannot be resolved without a judge and jury.

There are a number of dispute resolution programs. Some of the more common ones are:

  • Mediation
  • Arbitration, and
  • Case Evaluation.

Each one of these alternatives has it’s own advantages and disadvantages. Not all forms of ADR are appropriate for every case. However, they do provide possible means of resolving legal disputes.

For example, in mediation, an impartial person (the “mediator”) helps the parties try to reach a mutually acceptable resolution of the dispute. The mediator does not decide the dispute. Instead, he helps facilitate communication between the parties so that they can come to a resolution themselves. Mediation won’t work in all cases and it is not binding.

Arbitration, on the other hand, can give the parties a binding decision. Arbitration may be either “binding” or “nonbinding.”  Nonbinding arbitration means that the parties are free to request a trial if they do not accept the arbitrator’s decision. Unlike mediation, in arbitration, a third party (usually an attorney) acts as a “judge” and decides who wins and who loses. The procedure follows that of a trial, but is less formal and the rules of evidence are relaxed.

Case evaluation (sometimes called “neutral case evaluation”) allows each party a chance to present his case to a neutral person called an “evaluator.” After all the arguments and presentations, the evaluator gives each side his opinion of the strengths and weaknesses of each side’s case and suggests how they can resolve the issue. The evaluator is often an expert in the subject matter of the dispute. Although the evaluator’s opinion is not binding, it can form the basis for the parties to reach a settlement.

Putting Our Experience To Work for You

At the Law Offices of Mark Weinstein, our practice is concentrated on real estate. We handle all aspects of real estate litigation. If you have a real estate issue, our experienced real estate attorneys can guide you and give you the legal advice you need. Contact us here or call us at 770-888-7707 to schedule your free phone consultation.

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