In the middle of a consumer dispute with a business, corporation, landlord or company? Looking for a way to settle it outside the courtroom?
We asked the Federal Trade Commission to help us with alternative ways to solve disputes.
We know: All About Mediation and Arbitration
Tell me about alternative dispute resolution (ADR).
These are programs designed to help consumers resolve their complaints without going to court. There are basically two alternatives to going to court -Mediation and Arbitration.
Mediation uses a third partyóthe mediatoróto help you and the other party resolve the problems through facilitated dialogue. Itís up to you and the other party, however, to reach an agreement.
This is a more formal procedure. Although itís not court, you and the other party may have to appear at hearings, present evidence and question witnesses. Here, an arbitrator or panel makes a decision regarding the case, which may be legally binding.
How do I know what kind of dispute resolution program to choose?
The best way is to call around to various programs and ask. You find both mediation and arbitration programs on line, through non profit organizations, the bar association, legal aid clinics and from government and consumer referral agencies.
What are the different questions to ask when I contact these programs?
Start by asking for a copy of the programís rules. These are the issues you may want to know about
If your dispute resolution does not settle your problem, you may want to sue in court. If this is important to you, donít sign away that right when you participate in a dispute resolution program. Remember, with binding arbitration, you usually give up your right to sue, even if you did not specifically sign away that right.