Alternative Dispute Resolution as a Tool in Public Policy

A comprehensive overview of alternative dispute resolution methods and approaches.

In the past, duels and showdowns were commonplace methods of dispute resolution, but things have changed. Perhaps as a reflection of a more complex society or a growing recognition of individual rights, the United States has experienced an enormous increase in the number of lawsuits filed over the last half of the 20th century. However, when people and businesses are faced with resolving problems in a fair and equitable manner, they have many other options available to them, which have become increasingly popular as court calendars continue to lengthen. Alternative dispute resolution has greatly expanded over the last several years to include many areas in addition to the traditional commercial dispute; mediation has become an important first step in the process. This paper provides an overview of alternative dispute resolution methods and approaches, a discussion of potential drawbacks and constraints, and an assessment of whether these methods are appropriate for the public sector. A summary of the research is provided in the conclusion.
“Some jurisdictions and courts in the U.S. require early neutral evaluation. Under early neutral evaluation, parties to litigation are required to make presentations to a neutral evaluator. The evaluator is engaged to provide both parties with an assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of their respective positions, and to facilitate disputes. Courts in some jurisdictions may have case management conferences at which time staff counsel or other court officers may take active roles in promoting settlement discussions.”