What is Conflict Resolution?
Conflict resolution is a general term for numerous methods of addressing the sources of conflict. Conflict resolution can be thought of in the legal sense as comprising arbitration, mediation, and other forms of alternate dispute resolution. Conflict resolution can also be used to signify attempts at diplomacy between states and countries. The objective of all these is to settle disputes between parties in the most positive way to avoid litigation, between parties contemplating a civil suit, or violent conflict, between countries.
What is involved in Conflict Resolution?
Conflict resolution involves the parties to the matter and an outside intermediary. Depending on the type of conflict resolution in effect the intermediary is known as an arbitrator, mediator, or negotiator.
Arbitration is a form of conflict resolution in which an outside party, known as an arbitrator, evaluates a civil dispute between parties and, in essence, acts as the “judge and jury.” The decision that the arbitrator makes is often binding upon the parties involved. A court of law is, in no way, involved in arbitration and will only interfere when there are egregious actions taken on the part of the arbitrator. Arbitration is the most common form of alternate dispute resolution seen in contract disputes.
Mediation is defined as a negotiation to resolve differences that is conducted by an impartial party. The mediation process is considered private and confidential between the parties involved. A typical mediation will involve the parties themselves as well as their representatives plus an outside, neutral mediator. The mediator is the focal point of mediation. His/her job is to listen and evaluate the situation and attempt to resolve the matter through an amicable settlement. Unlike arbitration, which can be binding, mediation is non-binding on the parties and for any agreement to be upheld in a court of law a contract outlining the settlement must be in writing and signed by both parties.
Mediation has two purposes. The first is to facilitate the communication between parties so that they may, on their own accord, come to a mutual agreement about a dispute. If that does not happen mediation will take another form in which the mediator will take into account the facts and evidence presented and make a prediction on how a court of law might decide the matter. Mediation is most often the route taken in interpersonal disputes such as divorce, estates, and other family matters.
Of course the most well known form of conflict resolution in the legal system is litigation. Litigation involves the disputing parties going into court to have a judge or jury decide the matter for them. Litigation is by far the most costly form of legal conflict resolution and many should attempt to resolve their differences with a form of alternate dispute resolution prior to going down that path.