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Alternative Dispute Resolution

Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) is a very popular tool used in resolving disputes between parties. Before a lawsuit is filed, ADR can be used to settle a dispute without expending court costs and entering into an extended legal battle. ADR can also be employed during the course of the litigation to attempt to resolve the case once enough information has been gathered so that each party has had the opportunity to properly evaluate his or her position in the case.

ADR takes two forms. The first form, mediation, is the more informal method. A dispute is brought before a single mediator, who hears both sides of the story and then facilitates settlement discussions based on his or her independent evaluation of the claim. Mediation is usually voluntary. It can be as informal as the attorneys for the parties and the parties themselves meeting with the mediator and presenting the pros and cons of the case along with a settlement demand.

The second form of ADR, arbitration, is a more formal proceeding, usually involving a panel of arbitrators who hear the case. The case is presented by the parties' attorneys. However, they are not strictly bound by the Rules of Evidence, nor is there a jury or a judge as there is at a trial. Under many circumstances, arbitration may be final if the parties agree to submit to binding arbitration. In those cases, the parties cannot use the court system in the event that they are unhappy with the result of the arbitration. In other cases, where nonbinding arbitration is used, the parties may seek redress within the court system if the dispute is not resolved to their satisfaction through the arbitration.

In many Illinois circuit courts, parties involved in a legal dispute are required to use some form of ADR before their case actually goes to trial. For instance, some Illinois courts require couples seeking a hearing on child custody issues to use mediation. Oftentimes, this facilitates a settlement of the case without using valuable court time and resources.

It is advisable that you or your attorney review all contracts that you are currently a party to, especially insurance contracts, that could include an arbitration clause. It is not uncommon for the contract to set a specific time frame in which you must make a demand for arbitration. If you do not make such a demand within the time period set in the contract, then you can be barred from ever making a claim.

This website is not intended to constitute legal advice or the provision of legal services. By posting and/or maintaining the website and its contents, Lucas Law does not intend to solicit business from clients located in states or jurisdictions outside of Illinois wherein Lucas Law or its individual attorney(s) are not licensed or authorized to practice law.

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