Understanding the disadvantages of alternative dispute resolution can help you from making a big mistake if you would be better served by going to court. Alternative dispute resolution programs, such as mediation or arbitration, are designed to settle disputes between parties short of litigating the matter in court. You've likely already agreed to alternative dispute resolution when signing a lease, purchase agreement or employment contract, so it's a good idea to understand the process. Using an alternative dispute resolution program is an excellent way to resolve a potential lawsuit, but, like any legal process, there are advantages and disadvantages involved.
You might still go to court. Primarily, unlike litigation where there will eventually be a guaranteed result, many alternative dispute resolutions do not offer a guaranteed conclusion to your case. You might spend a great deal of time and money in an effort to settle your case short of litigation but find yourself in court anyway.
Decisions are often final. The results of the proceedings are generally final and, unlike court decisions, cannot be appealed if you are not satisfied with the result. It is up to you to explore various avenues of alternative dispute resolution and consider how binding they will be.
Your case might not be a good fit. Alternative dispute resolutions generally resolve only issues of money or civil disputes. Alternative dispute resolution proceedings will not result in injunctive orders. They cannot result in an order requiring one of the parties to do or cease doing a particular affirmative act.
There are limits to the discovery process. You should also be aware that you are generally proceeding without the protections offered parties in litigation, such as those rules governing discovery. Courts generally allow a great deal of latitude in the discovery process, which you will not have in an alternative dispute resolution.
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