Atlanta Mediation & Arbitration
Alternative Dispute Resolution, also referred to as ADR, encompasses two very distinct and different procedures.
The first type of ADR is mediation. Mediation is a process that takes place at different times and for different reasons.
First, parties to a dispute can agree to mediation. This type of voluntary mediation can take place either before or after a lawsuit has been filed. Mediation that takes place as the result of an agreement by the parties usually has a good chance of success because both parties believe it is a good idea, and no one is being forced to mediate.
Second, some contracts specify that the parties submit any disputes to mediation before filing a lawsuit or claim for arbitration.
Third, over the past several years, many courts and judges in metropolitan Atlanta are routinely ordering cases to mediation.
Regardless of how, why or when a mediation takes place, there are certain aspects of mediation that do not change. For the most part, mediation proceedings are confidential, and the general rule is that information that is exchanged at mediation will never be evidence in any lawsuit. Also, the general rule is that the mediator cannot be compelled to turn over his or her file, or to testify. Your attorney can explain these issues to you in further detail.
Also, and very importantly, any resolution achieved at mediation is strictly voluntary. A mediator is not a judge or trier of fact, and cannot order or insist on any particular result. The concept of mediation is to help the parties to a dispute achieve a resolution that they agree to.
The second type of ADR is Arbitration which utilizes a neutral third party to hear a dispute between parties. Unlike mediation, arbitration is a binding hearing presided over by an arbitrator who is usually mutually selected by the parties. The arbitrator is retained to decide the dispute after the testimony and evidence are presented and concluded. While arbitration is very similar to a non-jury trial, there can be significant benefits to arbitration. Arbitration is usually quicker and less expensive than a non-jury trial, and it is private and confidential.