Meeting Your Needs Through Appropriate Dispute Resolution

An Alternative to the Courts

Many companies and individuals are turning to alternative dispute resolution (ADR) as a way to settle disputes. They recognize that a time consuming and expensive journey through the courts in search of a settlement to a dispute often results in no true ‘winner’ and has uncontrollable risk factors associated with it. ADR includes a number of procedures which make use of a neutral third party to facilitate settlement of a dispute. These include mediation, fact finding, case evaluation, negotiation and arbitration.

While not a new concept, ADR has recently gained increased attention as many of the nation’s largest and most successful companies have turned to ADR rather than the courts. And ADR offers the same benefits to small companies and individuals as well. Smaller and mid-sized companies as well as those operated by families recognize that relationships must be preserved in order to continue doing business after a dispute is settled.

We endorse the rules and ethics of the Association for Conflict Resolution, as well as those of the U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution.

Who Starts the Process

The process can be initiated by any stakeholder or party to a dispute or even by a concerned party not directly involved in the dispute. However, participation in the process is usually voluntary.

How the Process Works

Specific ADR tools, and individual characteristics of each dispute require some flexibility, however in general, this is the procedure that one can expect.

  1. The first step is to become familiar with the resources on this site.
  2. The second step is to make direct contact with us. We would usually schedule a short non-cost introductory meeting to talk about the situation and answer any questions.
  3. If the decision is to go forward, then Settlements And Solutions will begin work, by conducting a conflict assessment, and contacting all the stakeholders.
  4. The next step is either to meet separately with each stakeholder, or to convene a joint meeting. Note that communication during the private session may be kept confidential at the stakeholders’ request.
  5. The neutral helps the stakeholders identify and communicate their interests. Explore if those interests can be integrated, and develop an agreement that will serve these interests in the future. It is important to note that the stakeholders decide on the acceptability of an agreement, and therefore achieve some measure of joint ownership over the agreement.

The courts of this country should not be the places where the resolution of disputes begin. They should be the places where disputes end — after alternative methods of resolving disputes have been considered and tried.

— Justice Sandra Day O’Connor