• ADR may not be suitable for every dispute.
• If ADR is binding, the parties normally give up most court protections, including a decision by a judge or jury under formal rules of evidence and procedure, and review for legal error by an appellate court.
• There generally is less opportunity to find out about the other side’s case with ADR than with litigation. ADR may not be effective if it takes place before the parties have sufficient information to resolve the dispute.
• The neutral may charge a fee for his or her services.
• If a dispute is not resolved through ADR, the parties may have to put time and money into both ADR and a lawsuit.

Lawsuits must be brought within specified periods of time, known as statutes of limitations. Parties must be careful not to let a statute of limitations run out while a dispute is in an ADR process.

Did you know

That most civil lawsuits settle without trial

In addition, did you know that there are a number of ways resolve civil disputes without having to sue somebody?

These alternatives to a lawsuit are known as alternative dispute resolution (ADR). The most common forms of ADR are Mediation, Arbitration, and Settlement Conferences. There are a number of other kinds of ADR as well.

In ADR, trained, impartial persons decide disputes or help parties decide disputes themselves. These persons are called neutrals. For example, in mediation, the neutral is the mediator. Neutrals normally are chosen by the disputing parties or by the court. Neutrals can help parties resolve disputes without having to go to court.

ADR is not new. ADR is available in many communities, through dispute resolution programs and private neutrals.


ADR can have a number of advantages over a lawsuit.

• ADR can be speedier. A dispute often can be resolved in matter of months, even weeks, through ADR, while a lawsuit can take years.
• ADR can save money. Court costs, attorney fees, and expert fees can be saved.
• ADR can permit more participation. The parties may have more chances to tell their side of the story than in court and may have more control over the outcome.
• ADR can be flexible. The parties can choose the ADR process that is best for them. For example, in mediation the parties may decide how to resolve their dispute.
• ADR can be cooperative. This means that the parties having a dispute may work together with the neutral to resolve the dispute and agree to a remedy that makes sense to them, rather than work against each other.
• ADR can reduce stress. These are fewer, if any court appearances. In addition, because ADR can be speedier, and save money, and because the parties are normally cooperative, ADR is easier on the nerves. The parties do not have a lawsuit over their heads for years.
• ADR can be more satisfying. For all the above reasons, may people have reported a high degree of satisfaction with ADR.

Because of these advantages, many parties choose ADR to resolve a dispute, instead of filing a lawsuit. Even when a lawsuit has been filed, the court can refer the dispute to a neutral before the parties’ positions harden and the lawsuit becomes costly. ADR has been used to resolve disputes even after a trial, when the result is appealed.