Alternative Dispute Resolution

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Alternative Dispute Resolution as a practice area that involves a formal process by which parties can settle their disputes with the help of a neutral third party. Alternative dispute resolution (“ADR”) is an alternative to litigation and has three primary benefits to the parties – it is faster, less expensive, and at least with mediation allows the parties to decide how to resolve their dispute rather than leaving the decision up to a judge or jury. In the CNMI mediation is required before parties to a lawsuit can begin discovery.

Mediation is the most common form of ADR. It can be very informal or involve a rigid structure, depending on the nature of the dispute and the desire of the parties. Mediations tend to be quick, usually being scheduled within a few weeks from the time of the request. Mediations are private, and under the rules of the CNMI court they are confidential. Mediation is a particularly good alternative when disputes involve parties who may need to remain on good terms, including family members, co-workers, business partners, landlords and tenants, and neighbors.

Two other forms of ADR are arbitrations and mediation/arbitrations.

In an arbitration, the neutral third party makes a decision similar to what a judge does in litigation. The advantage of arbitration over letting a judge decide is that arbitrations tend to be faster and less expensive than going to court. Also, arbitrators can be selected who have special expertise relevant to the dispute (a doctor for a medical malpractice case, an architect or engineer for a dispute over the construction of a building) and this may allow for a more informed decision.

Arbitrations can also be done by a panel of arbitrators where each party selects one arbitrator and the two arbitrators then select a truly neutral third arbitrator.

Mediation/arbitration starts out as a mediation and then if the parties do not reach a settlement the mediator becomes an arbitrator and decides the dispute.

The Dotts Law Office represents clients in ADR. In addition, Michael Dotts is an approved mediator by the CNMI Supreme Court and mediates cases for other attorneys on a frequent basis.

Mediation is the most common form of Alternative Dispte Resolution. In the CNMI, mediation is required before parties to a lawsuit can begin discovery.