Alternative Dispute Resolution in New Jersey: Evans Agrapidis Explains What it is and the Key Advantages
When in business or in personal life, disputes will happen. And while there are many different ways of taking legal action when a disagreement occurs, it’s often possible to avoid costly litigation or facing the court of law by resolving issues using Alternative Dispute Resolution, otherwise known as ADR.
Evans Agrapidis, a highly respected personal injury and accident lawyer and founder of Agrapidis & Maroules law firm located in Jersey City and Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey, knows firsthand how effective ADR can be when bringing parties in conflict to a mutual resolution. He explains what Alternative Dispute Resolution is, how it’s used in New Jersey, and the advantages that come with using it.
What is ADR and how does it work?
Simply put, Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) provides a confidential and alternative method of resolving problems without use of the court system. The top types of ADR cases that are usually seen come from issues related to family law matters, personal injury, home improvement, collection matters, and billing disputes, says Evans Agrapidis.
ADR in New Jersey
The New Jersey Supreme Court requires parties in certain legal proceedings to submit to court — ordered mediation before being allowed to appear before a judge. The ADR Unit of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs (Division) uses the two most common forms: mediation and arbitration.
According to Evans Agrapidis mediation refers to an informal, voluntary process where a third party assists those in conflict to reach a mutual resolution. Although the mediator is not the decision-maker, he or she assists the disputing parties to resolve conflicts by exercising all options during the negotiation process. It is only if the parties neglect to reach a mutually acceptable agreement then they are free to pursue legal action.
A more formal type of ADR than mediation, arbitration involves a process in which the dispute is resolved by the decision of an arbitrator (a nominated third party who is qualified to handle arbitration). Unlike mediation, the award issued by the arbitrator is legally binding and generally cannot be appealed. Those involved in the arbitration process receive the opportunity to present their case to the arbitrator in their own words, without an overly structured, formal hearing. Should either party fail to live up to the arbitrator’s decision, the other party may go to the court of appropriate jurisdiction to have the award enforced.
The arbitration process can be particularly useful in disputes that require an understanding of technical knowledge and where non-disclosure of commercially sensitive information can be adhered to. Arbitration runs as a tribunal process and decisions are binding. Many contracts will contain an arbitration clause i.e. when matters are arbitrated, parties are required to sign an “Arbitration Agreement,” which requires arbitration to be used in the case of a dispute.
In the state of New Jersey, the court system has an arbitration process for personal injury cases. These decisions are non-binding to the parties and are often used to assist with settlement discussions.
Evans Agrapidis on the Advantages of Using ADR in New Jersey
Generally, ADR is faster and more cost effective than entering into litigation and resorting to the courts. As long as communication has not irreversibly broken down between the parties at dispute, ADR should be considered, notes Evans Agrapidis. ADR is also helpful in terms of maintaining a degree of confidentiality compared to the more public nature of court proceedings.