- What are the Advantages of ADR?
- Cost Savings
The primary reason why litigation is so expensive in Massachusetts is well known: pre-trial discovery and discovery-related motion practice. According to a recent study of the federal courts by the Brookings Institute, 60% of the cost of litigation is attributable solely to pre-trial discovery. Further, the cost for the personal appearance of expert witnesses at trial, generally required by the trial court’s evidentiary rules, is extremely high. ADR’s simplified procedures, which allow in many cases for the presentation of expert testimony and other documentary evidence by affidavits and written submissions, generally result in lower legal costs and accrued discovery expenses. The fees for arbitration vary from provider to provider but are a fraction of what discovery and trial in the Court system would cost parties.
Litigation in the Courts is often delayed by the backlog of pending cases. A trial in the court system could take two years or more after suit is filed. Although most courts have improved their efficiency by reducing their case backlogs over the past years, often due to the success of ADR processes, present continuing budgetary cuts have dramatically impacted the Courts and their ability to effectively handle the number of cases presently in litigation.
On the other hand, cases submitted to mediation or arbitration with a private ADR provider such as MDRS can often be scheduled for hearing within days of submission, depending on the needs and availability of the parties. Most ADR providers render final and binding arbitration decisions anywhere from 10 to 20 days from the close of the hearing.
Unlike the scheduling of a trial by the court, with ADR the parties select a mutually convenient time and place for a hearing. Last minute postponements and delays, often resulting when a court is not ready for the case to commence as scheduled, are generally avoided by using ADR. Last minute calls by court clerks saying that the court needs you commence trial tomorrow do not occur when using ADR.
Using ADR, the parties can tailor a dispute resolution process that will work best for them based on each individual case, whether, for example, non-binding mediation, binding arbitration or perhaps binding high low arbitration. Using ADR, the parties often can retain greater control over the manner in which their dispute is resolved than they would if they opted for trial in the court.
Choice of Neutral
Using ADR, the parties mutually select the arbitrator(s) who will decide the case, or the mediator who will assist them in resolving their dispute, usually after being provided with detailed background materials. In the courts, the parties do not know which judge their case will be assigned to, nor what experience that judge may have in the particular field of law that their case involves. If a jury trial is requested, ordinarily the decision makers on the jury have no experience in the law or in the valuation of cases. ADR providers such as MDRS offer retired judges or experienced attorneys as neutrals who have training and experience in the particular area of law involved in each case.
Privacy and Finality
For many parties an important advantage of ADR is the private resolution of their dispute. This is often the case where reputational interests are involved or where the parties wish to limit public access to documents, exhibits, pleadings and testimony. An ADR arbitration hearing or mediation session takes place in a private office setting and not in an open court room with spectators. A related concern of some parties may be avoiding a reported decision where an adverse precedent would encourage the filing of additional cases against the party. Another important advantage of ADR to many parties is that except in certain rare circumstances, the arbitrator’s decision is final and is not subject to appeal, which appeals could take years, require significant further costs and result in continued uncertainty.
Preserving Ongoing Relationships
To many, no experience can be more adversarial than trial in the Court system. Prior relationships that may have existed between disputants, i.e., whether former business associates, neighbors, employers and employees, married couples, etc., seldom survive the strain of protracted litigation. In contrast, the informality of the mediation process, the mutual decision to elect mediation, the mutual selection of a mediator, and the focus of the mediator on the existing relationship often can help not only resolve the immediate dispute but also often increases the parties’ ability to resolve future disagreements in a nonadversarial manner. Even the process of binding arbitration is less likely to further damage once beneficial relationships that may have existed between parties.
ADR proceedings can be structured in a manner that controls risk by setting limits on the range of outcomes, for example, by using a high-low arbitration format. Such controls are particularly useful where there is a risk of a runaway jury or where the amount in controversy is such that a wholly adverse decision could be ruinous to one of the parties. In mediation, of course, risk is always controlled because a party is free to refuse any offer until a satisfactory one appears.
- What is Mediation?
- Mediation is a voluntary process in which a neutral mediator assists the parties in resolving their own dispute. The mediator has no authority to impose a settlement and the parties are under no obligation to reach agreement. The mediator may, but need not, suggest settlement terms. Mediation proceedings are private and confidential and the substance of the discussions in mediation is generally considered privileged. Approximately 90% of cases mediated with MDRS reach settlement.
- What is Arbitration?
- In arbitration, a binding decision is made on a disputed matter by a neutral arbitrator or panel of arbitrators after a hearing is conducted which involves the presentation of evidence and arguments by the disputants. This process most closely resembles a trial in the courts. In most arbitrations however, the rules of evidence are relaxed and there is limited prehearing discovery. The award of the arbitrator, except in limited rare circumstances, is final and not subject to appeal.
- Why use MDRS?
- Massachusetts Dispute Resolution Services (MDRS) provides a full range of out-of-court mediation and arbitration services to private individuals, attorneys, business, labor and the insurance community.
Founded in 1991, MDRS is one of the first ADR providers in Massachusetts. To date we have resolved more than ten thousand cases for our clients. At MDRS our mediation and arbitration services take less time and cost much less than is required to reach trial in the court system. Most cases are successfully completed within 30 days or sooner.
Massachusetts Dispute Resolution Services offers parties a select panel of neutrals comprised of professional mediators and arbitrators who are experienced attorneys or retired judges. Our neutrals have substantive knowledge of the area of law involved in your case, experience in deciding an arbitration matter based upon the evidence and the law, and with the mediation skills to assist the parties in reaching a resolution of even the most difficult disputes. We provide a wide spectrum of dispute resolution processes designed to meet the parties’ interest in solving disputes equitably, economically and promptly. To better serve our clients, MDRS also has hearing locations throughout Massachusetts.
To learn more about us and to address any questions you may have about our services, please contact our Case Manager, Sheri Stevens at (800) 536-5520 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Who are your Neutrals?
- Massachusetts Dispute Resolution Services offers parties a select panel of neutrals comprised of professional mediators and arbitrators who are experienced attorneys or retired judges. Our neutrals have substantive knowledge of the area of law involved in your case, experience in deciding an arbitration matter based upon the evidence and the law, and with the mediation skills to assist the parties in reaching a resolution of even the most difficult disputes.
- What are your Services?
- MDRS Services
Massachusetts Dispute Resolution Services (MDRS) provides a full range of out-of-court mediation and arbitration services to private individuals, attorneys, business, labor and the insurance community.
Informal and non adversarial, the non-binding procedures of mediation consist of parties agreeing upon an impartial mediator to hear the relevant facts of a dispute and the position of each party.
Mediators are trained and experienced in assisting parties to reach their own negotiated dispute resolution. Approximately 90 percent of the disputes submitted to mediation reach settlement and avoid further litigation.
As in most states, Massachusetts law allows parties to choose arbitration, rather than trial in the court system, to reach final resolution of their disputes. Parties agree on an impartial arbitrator with training and experience in the specific area of law involved in the dispute.
The arbitrator conducts a hearing in which parties present witnesses, documents, and evidence in support of their case. The arbitrator then renders a decision which is final and legally binding.
MDRS encourages parties to consider this format, which is designed to minimize the risks of both parties in proceeding to binding arbitration.
Without disclosure to the arbitrator selected, parties agree in writing to a minimum and maximum arbitration award. After hearing the case, the decision of the arbitrator is binding but can be no greater than or less than the minimum and maximum amounts agreed upon earlier by all parties.
Presided over by one or more highly qualified attorneys or retired judges selected by the parties, a mini-trial is a summarized presentation of a civil trial. A verdict is issued that is non-binding on the parties.
The process has been used effectively in complex cases as an informational guide to yield subsequent settlement.
In certain disputes it may be advantageous for parties to engage an impartial fact-finder to conduct a hearing, Skilled in the specific area of law involved in their dispute, the fact-finder hears witnesses, reviews documents and evidence as presented by the parties, and renders a written finding.
Depending upon the agreement of the parties, these findings may be binding or non-binding in accordance with applicable laws and used as a basis for subsequent dispute resolution.
- What types of Cases does MDRS handle?
- While virtually any dispute can be submitted to Massachusetts Dispute Resolution Services, our areas of concentration include:
Civil litigation, personal injury, wrongful death, negligence, products liability, general liability, premises accidents, medical, legal and professional malpractice, complex multi party litigation, a full range of insurance claims, including automobile and UM coverage, first party property and casualty reference hearings; business, contract, commercial and employment disputes, discrimination, sexual abuse, construction, real estate, land use, environmental, condominium, governmental disputes, and family, probate and divorce matters.
- Who are your Clients?
- Massachusetts Dispute Resolution Services (MDRS) has provided mediation and arbitration services to over 20,000 private individuals, attorneys, business, labor and insurance representatives over the past 20 years. Founded in 1991 and as one of the first ADR providers in Massachusetts, MDRS has resolved more than ten thousand cases for our clients. Upon request we can provide you with references of some of the clients we have served.
MDRS has also provided services to over seventy insurance companies and presently is used by virtually all of the insurance carriers providing coverage in Massachusetts and New England.