Thanks to court TV shows like Judge Judy and Judge Mathis, it’s easy to assume you know the ins and outs of settling a dispute. While these reality shows can give you a glimpse into the process, every case is different. Here are some key points to consider when deciding between court or alternative methods for settling your dispute.

What is ADR?

ADR, or alternative dispute resolution, describes processes used to resolve disputes without having to go to trial. These processes include arbitration and mediation; typically, they are less formal and less expensive than court.

1. Mover Pays the Fee

Even if a contract provides that arbitration costs are to be split, practically speaking, whoever initiates the proceedings will have to pay at least the initial fee to start the process. This can be a significant upfront cost that should be factored into your decision-making process.

2. ADR May Not Be Cheaper Than Court

While ADR is often perceived as a cheaper alternative to court, this is not always the case. Arbitration can still be costly, with fees for arbitrators or mediators, attorneys, preparation time, and other distractions adding up. It is important to weigh these potential costs against the anticipated benefits.

3. No Motion Practice; Limited/No Discovery

As opposed to litigation in court, with ADR it is very difficult (and sometimes impossible) to require the other party to produce crucial evidence like a signed contract or written correspondence about the dispute. You also are not provided the ability to make and file motions. One of the most powerful tools in a legal dispute, motion practice, is the process that allows you to request the judge make certain decisions about the proceedings, like if a certain piece of evidence is allowed to be viewed.

4. ADR is Generally More Private

Privacy is another significant aspect of ADR. If you want to keep things private, arbitration is the better bet, as cases brought to court are generally made public. This can be a crucial factor for businesses concerned about protecting sensitive information.

5. Make Sure You Are Protected

It is essential to check with your insurance carrier before proceeding with ADR. Your insurance policy may not cover the cost of arbitration or mediation, leaving you to bear the financial burden. Ensuring you are adequately protected can prevent unexpected expenses.

Choosing between traditional court litigation and ADR is a significant decision that can impact the cost, privacy, and outcome of your dispute resolution process. Always talk to your business attorney, contract lawyer, or general counsel about what is right for you, as every case is different. Need legal representation? Contact us today for more information!