What is Alternative Dispute Resolution?
Alternative Dispute Resolution, or ADR, is a general term that includes a variety of different ways of trying to settle or adjudicate a civil suit outside of the court process.
Arbitration is a form of trial before essentially a private judge (the arbitrator). People sometimes agree ahead of time to arbitrate any disputes, because the process generally moves faster than the civil courts. This is typically not something that happens once a lawsuit begins.
Mediation is another form of ADR that you likely will be offered in the court of your lawsuit. Mediation is a voluntary process, where both parties meet with a neutral mediator who tries to help them come to a compromise they can all live with.
The mediator's job is not to take sides. Any party is also free to stop the mediation anytime they want if it is not productive. Finally, you should know that everything said in mediation is strictly protected by statute (and usually a mediation agreement the parties sign), so nothing that is said in mediation can be used in the case if you do not reach a settlement.
Learn more here about mediation in Massachusetts.
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