Alternative Dispute Resolution

In many legal matters, going to trial is the least desirable way to reach an outcome. Litigation costs can be very high and emotions can run the gamut of apprehension to anger and even worse. Using Alternative Dispute Resolution, parties can resolve business disagreements, estate and trust disputes, family law matters and other legal disputes in a more efficient and surprisingly more satisfactory way than heated courtroom battles.

The process of Alternative Dispute Resolution is valuable because it involves a knowledgeable, neutral person to provide a forum in which a parties can settle their differences.

At MacElree Harvey both our Pennsylvania and Delaware attorneys often use Alternative Dispute Resolution to facilitate resolution of our clients’ legal disputes. In addition, the Firm has several attorneys who offer Alternative Dispute Resolution services as part of their practice by serving as Mediators and Arbitrators.

The use of Alternative Dispute Resolution forums to resolve disputes in Pennsylvania and Delaware has expanded greatly in the past thirty years. Many types of disputes are particularly suited to resolution through mediation or arbitration. Some examples include:

  • Divorce
  • Custody
  • Personal injury
  • Estate matters
  • Employment conflicts
  • Breach of contract

The primary methods of Alternative Dispute Resolution are Mediation and Arbitration, which are chosen depending on the client’s individual situation, and desired manner of interacting with the process and the other parties involved.

Mediation
Mediation is a process by which parties to a dispute use a neutral party to attempt to facilitate a mutually agreeable resolution to their conflict. It is a confidential process in which the mediator, an impartial third party, directs settlement discussions, but does not render a judgment on any issue in dispute. The mediator helps the parties reach their own negotiated settlement by holding joint sessions with all parties present followed by caucuses with each party individually, during which issues are defined, emotions are defused, and potential resolutions are discussed. Mediation is a non-adversarial way to resolve conflicts, including lawsuits. A mediator can facilitate the parties in conflict to frame the business problem caused by the conflict, hear the parties out, and engage them in the process of working through the conflict to reach an agreement acceptable to the parties that includes gives and takes, and specific behavior.

Arbitration
When Arbitration is used, a neutral person (called an arbitrator) hears arguments and evidence from each side, then, in contrast to Mediation, decides the outcome of the dispute. Arbitration is less formal than a trial, and the rules of evidence are often relaxed. Participants in Arbitration may choose for the outcome to be considered binding or non-binding. When the outcome is binding, the right to a trial is waived, and participants agree to accept the arbitrator’s decision as final, often with no right to appeal. When participants choose nonbinding Arbitration means that the parties are free to request a trial if they do not accept the arbitrator’s decision.

MacElree Harvey attorneys have the experience to serve as arbitrators, mediators and to represent parties at mediations and arbitrations in disputes throughout Pennsylvania and Delaware.