What is Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)?

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is a broad term for a wide range of processes that can be used as alternate ways to resolve disputes other than the usual steps in court cases, such as a trial. Mediation, arbitration, and early neutral evaluation (ENE) are forms of ADR

Mediation is a flexible, informal process in which parties agree to work together with the assistance of a trained neutral third party, the mediator, to explore their interests and generate options for resolving their dispute. The mediator helps both sides to communicate with each other and assists the parties in clarifying and expressing their views. The mediator has no power to decide the case or impose a resolution. In mediation, any settlement is voluntary. The parties control the outcome.

Arbitration is a form of private hearing in which the parties submit their dispute to an impartial decision-maker, an arbitrator, or sometimes a panel of multiple arbitrators. The hearing is generally less formal and more private than a hearing in court. The arbitrator considers the evidence presented by the parties and then issues a decision about the dispute. The form of arbitration offered through the Maine courts is non-binding arbitration.

Early Neutral Evaluation (ENE), sometimes called case evaluation, is an informal process in which parties present the disputed facts and legal issues to an experienced neutral evaluator. The evaluator may advise the parties on the strengths and weaknesses of their positions, predict a likely outcome if the case were to go to trial, or estimate the value of the case. The evaluator's opinions are advisory only.

Neutral: An impartial, unbiased person who conducts an ADR process; another term for a mediator, arbitrator or evaluator.