Trial Courts: Alternatives to Court
If you watch the many court shows on television, you might think that all disputes are settled in a courtroom. But the truth is that 50 to 90 percent of cases filed never even go to trial! Most cases do something called "settle". To settle a case outside of court means that the parties involved in the lawsuit reached an agreement on their own without needing a judge or jury to decide the dispute for them. A dispute can be settled even before a lawsuit is filed. Once a lawsuit is filed, it can be settled before the trial begins, during the trial, while the jury is deliberating, or even after a verdict is rendered. A settlement usually does not state that anyone was right or wrong in the case, nor does it have to settle the whole case. Part of a dispute can be settled, with the remaining issues left to be resolved by the judge or jury.
The primary method for reaching a settlement is through Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). Two common methods of ADR are mediation and arbitration. These procedures typically involve one or more persons other than a judge or a court to help resolve conflicts and disputes.
Mediation is a conflict resolution process where the parties talk with the help of a third person, called a mediator, who helps them find a compromise or a common ground on which they can agree to a solution. The mediator does not take sides or make decisions for the parties. In general, mediation is less costly and faster than arbitration or litigation (going to court).