New York State Dispute Resolution Association, Inc.
4 Pine West Plaza, Suite 411 Albany, NY 12205  ph: (518) 687-2240  email: info@nysdra.org
What Is Dispute Resolution

Dispute resolution refers to methods used by trained neutrals to help people to communicate more clearly, negotiate effectively, develop and evaluate solutions, or resolve conflicts.  Neutrals do not take sides or represent the parties.  Dispute resolution is an interdisciplinary field that attracts neutrals from backgrounds like human resources, law and social work.

In New York, the most popular types of dispute resolution are mediation and arbitration.   Although people used to think of dispute resolution as an alternative to the court system, the two approaches to conflict management often work closely together. Dispute resolution offers a private and voluntary option beyond court.

Negotiation is a discussion between two or more people solving disagreements, deciding what to do, or making a bargain.  Negotiation may involve advocates or representatives.

Conciliation is the use of a third person who is asked to help people reach an amicable resolution of their dispute.  The conciliator does not have the authority to impose a settlement, and usually speaks with the parties separately.

Facilitation
involves a neutral who helps members of a group to define and meet their goals, exchange ideas and information, solve a problem or hold effective meetings. 

Mediation is a method for discussing problems and exploring solutions with the help of a trained neutral.  Mediators help people communicate clearly and negotiate effectively.  Mediators do not take sides, give legal advice, make decisions about resolutions or impose solutions.  Mediation is private and voluntary.  Research shows that mediation frequently results in agreements that are voluntarily followed because they are created by the people directly involved.   

Neutral evaluation is conducted by a neutral with the expertise to hear arguments and predict the likely outcome in court.  The evaluator may also provide guidance and settlement assistance with the parties’ consent.

Arbitration is a formal proceeding that uses one or more neutrals to listen to evidence and render a decision.  The decision may be binding or non-binding.

Litigation is a legal dispute argued in court.  Attorneys help negotiate a resolution, or a judge or jury makes a decision.  The people directly involved have little control over the process or outcome.


Other Processes

Consensus Building is a process of negotiation that crafts an outcome to which all participants can agree.  In tailoring the agreement, participants seek to resolve or mitigate objections of the minority to achieve the most agreeable decision. Consensus is usually defined as meaning both general agreement, and the process of getting to such agreement.

Restorative Justice encompasses victim/survivor centered processes that address harm from crime, bullying and violations of legal and human rights.  Restorative resolutions engage those who are harmed, wrongdoers and their affected communities in search of outcomes that may help promote the repair, reconciliation and the rebuilding of relationships.


How do I know what method is right for my situation?

When you contact a service provider they will help determine what form of dispute resolution might be recommended and the steps involved.