In years past, when parties had a dispute, they resolved it by filing a lawsuit. In the last decade, however, parties – and New Jersey’s courts – have increasingly resorted to alternative dispute resolution (often called “ADR”) instead of lawsuits. There are two main types of ADR, arbitration and mediation.
In arbitration, the parties agree that one or more neutral persons, known as “arbitrators,” will hear testimony, review evidence, and make a final decision which the courts will enforce as binding upon the parties. There is a limited amount of discovery of evidence in arbitrations, so the process is faster and generally less complex.
With limited exceptions, there is no opportunity for appeal and the arbitrator’s decision is final. Parties to arbitration give up certain rights, such as the right to a jury trial or to appeal the arbitrator’s decision. Because arbitration is faster, less complex, and results in a final decision, it can be significantly less expensive in the long run. However, that is not to say that arbitration is necessarily a “cheap” process.