Dispute resolution is the process of resolving disputes between parties and includes lawsuits (litigation), arbitration, mediation, conciliation, and many types of negotiation.
Dispute resolution processes are of two major types:
- Adjudicative processes, such as litigation or arbitration, in which a judge, jury or arbitrator determines the outcome.
- Consensual processes, such as mediation, conciliation, or negotiation, in which the parties attempt to reach agreement.
A competent and effective judge, arbitrator or mediator is important to the proper functioning of the dispute resolution process. In civil law systems judges are jurists who are trained in investigation techniques, the process of determining the veracity of evidence and the inquisitorial system of adjudication. In the United States and other common law countries, judges are often experienced trial lawyers who have litigated many cases over many years before being appointed or elected to the judiciary. Arbitrators and mediators are often retired judges or experienced private lawyers. In the United States, many states now have mediation or other ADR programs annexed to the courts, to facilitate settlement of lawsuits.