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Attempting To Resolve The Dispute Out Of Court

Suing and going to trial can be one of the most expensive, time-consuming, and frustrating ways to resolve your dispute. Before you file your case, you may want to consider other options, like negotiation, mediation, or arbitration.


Sometimes the quickest, easiest, and most cost-effective way to resolve a legal dispute is NOT to go to court.

Suing someone can potentially be a slow, costly, and ultimately unsatisfying experience. Remember, whenever you go to court and submit your problems to a judge or a jury, there is always the chance you will lose. Not only might you fail to get what you want in the case, you could actually end up owing the other side money!

“Alternative dispute resolution" (or "ADR") refers to a number of processes and techniques – some of which are described below – that are used to help people resolve disputes outside the court system.

To learn about ADR resources that might be available to help you resolve your dispute, click to visit Free Mediation and ADR Resources.

Types Of ADR

There are many forms of ADR, including:

  • Settlement Negotiation

Negotiation is simply the process of one party contacting the other party to try and work out some resolution (or "settlement") of a dispute that both parties can live with. Before a case is filed, or at any time during the course of a case, the parties are free to try and resolve their own dispute through negotiation.

Before you file a case, consider whether it would help to talk to the other party or send a letter to let them know what the problem is and what you feel you are entitled to. You can even let them know that you are considering suing if the dispute is not resolved.

If you negotiate a settlement, prepare a detailed settlement agreement outlining the terms. All parties should sign the agreement. If one party fails to perform, you can sue to force the party’s performance or for any money owing. There are even ways to structure the agreement so that it turns into a court judgment if one party fails to perform.

  • Mediation

In mediation, a third party (called the "mediator") facilitates and guides the resolution process to help the parties reach a negotiated outcome, but does not make a decision in the dispute.

The mediator is frequently a trained professional educated in different mediation techniques. But the mediator could also be a lawyer, retired judge, or an expert in a particular field.

Parties might agree to mediate a dispute because it is faster and less expensive than suing in court. They also might agree to mediation because they like the idea of deciding how the dispute will be resolved, if at all (as opposed to having an arbitrator or judge make a decision for them).

If you file a small claims case, you might be required to participate in a mediation as part of the small claims process. In other courts, the judge could order the parties to attempt mediation.

To learn about a FREE mediation service available to you, click to visit Free Mediation.

  • Arbitration

In arbitration, a third party (called the "arbitrator") acts as a private judge and makes a decision about the parties' dispute.

The arbitrator might be an attorney, an expert in a particular field (like construction or engineering), or maybe even a retired judge. Typically, the parties pay for the arbitrator’s services.

Sometimes the parties decide to submit their disagreement to arbitration simply because it can be faster, simpler, and less costly than going to court. Sometimes the parties are obligated to use arbitration because they signed a contract that contains an "arbitration clause" that requires arbitration of any dispute relating to the contract.

If you file a case in the district court with a value of less than $50,000, your case will likely be placed in the court’s mandatory arbitration program. For information about the program, click to visit ADR Resources.

You can find an arbitrator in your area by doing an internet search for “arbitrators in Las Vegas” (or whatever city you are located in). There are businesses that specialize in dispute resolution that have arbitrators for hire.