Resolving Legal Disputes

Shelby County Courthouse, Memphis, Tennessee, USA

Shelby County Courthouse, Memphis, Tennessee, USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dispute resolution has to do with the impartial rectification of conflict between individuals or parties. More specifically it is the utilization and execution of methods that are designed to resolve conflicts. In a case in which there is a dispute between people or groups, often times a third, neutral, party is selected to be an impartial representative for the disputing persons. Although dispute resolution can refer to resolutions both in and out of the court, it mainly applies to disputes that are settled outside of the legal framework of the judicial system.

Two of the most common types of dispute resolution are known as adjudicative and consensual. While adjudicative resolution requires a third party to mediate the outcome, such as a judge or jury, and usually involves some form of litigation, consensual resolution is the attempt to solve the issue between the two disputing parties without involving a third party, although at times a neutral arbitrator will be selected to preside over the case, though they will often be there not so much for authoritative purposes but more as a council to keep things fair. There is also a third upcoming type of dispute resolution, online dispute resolution, or ODR, which has become more popular in recent years with the rise of the internet’s prominence in daily life, but it is mainly the application of traditional consensual resolution practices, only adapted to the online environment.

Many disputes can be solved simply through adherence to the law, however, sometimes issues arise that the legal structure isn’t equipped to handle, and so a third party is chosen to resolve the conflict. These types of conflict fall within the jurisdiction of the law and so will be relegated to the political system for arbitration. Judicial resolutions are conflicts that will be, hopefully, settled by the court. In the United States, this is often the case with dispute resolution. This form of resolution usually involves litigation. This is the use of outside individuals to argue for or against the disputing parties. In a courtroom, the lawyers are the litigators, while the judge and jury listen to the arguments in order to come to their decisions.

Extrajudicial resolution is non-court settlement of conflict. Also known as alternative dispute resolution, or ADR, this is what people are usually referring to when discussing dispute resolution. ADR is usually more efficient, cost effective, and less time consuming than judicial resolutions. Extrajudicial resolution concerns various types of ways to settle conflict. These include arbitration and mediation. In arbitration neutral individuals will listen to both sides of an argument and render a decision based on evidence. Unlike the court systems, this proceeding doesn’t necessarily include a binding agreement with the parties.

Mediation is used in extrajudicial resolution as a way to open a dialogue between conflicting parties. The idea is to use a trained neutral third party in order to come up with unique solutions to solve the issue. A mediator is trained to be both an effective negotiator as well as an excellent communicator. A mediator is like a judge in that they cannot take sides, and they do not give legal advice either. Their decisions are not obligatorily followed, though they tend to be followed since the mediators are trained to make decisions that benefit both parties.

The techniques used in dispute resolution can be used both in and outside of the court room. It is often used by individuals who wish to speed up the process by not having to get into the political system. However, they are useful in many cases where individuals wish to come to the most beneficial agreement for all the parties involved.

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