The Superior Court of California, County of Alameda strongly encourages
the parties to use some form of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) before proceeding
The person who files a civil lawsuit (plaintiff) must include the
ADR Information Packet with the complaint when serving the defendant. Cross
complainants must serve the ADR Information Packet on any new parties named to the
You may choose ADR by:
- Indicating your preference on Case Management Form
- Filing the Stipulation
to ADR and Delay Initial Case Management Conference for 90 Days (a local form
included with the information packet); or
- Agree to ADR at your Initial Case Management Conference.
What ADR Options Are Available?
- Mediation - A neutral person (mediator) helps the parties communicate, clarify facts,
legal issues, explore settlement options, and agree on a solution that is acceptable to all sides.
- Court Mediation
Program: Mediators do not charge fees for the first two hours of mediation. If parties need more time, they must pay the mediator's regular fees.
Some mediators ask for a deposit before mediation starts which is subject to a refund
for unused time.
- Private Mediation: This is mediation where the parties pay the mediator's regular
fees and may choose a mediator outside the court's panel.
- Arbitration - A neutral person (arbitrator) hears arguments and evidence from each side and then decides the outcome of the dispute. Arbitration is less formal than
a trial and the rules of evidence are often relaxed. Arbitration is effective when
the parties want someone other than themselves to decide the outcome.
- Judicial Arbitration Program (non-binding): The judge can refer a case or the parties
can agree to use judicial arbitration. The parties select an arbitrator from a list
provided by the court. If the parties cannot agree on an arbitrator, one will be
assigned by the court. There is no fee for the arbitrator. The arbitrator must send
the decision (award of the arbitrator) to the court. The parties have the right
to reject the award and proceed to trial.
- Private Arbitration (binding and non-binding) occurs when parties involved in a
dispute either agree or are contractually obligated. This option takes place outside
of the courts and is normally binding meaning the arbitrator's decision is final.
What Are The Advantages Of Using ADR?
- Faster - Litigation can take years to complete but ADR usually takes weeks or months.
- Cheaper - Parties can save on attorneys' fees and litigation costs.
- More control and flexibility - Parties choose the ADR process appropriate for their case.
- Cooperative and less stressful - In mediation, parties cooperate to find a mutually
- Preserve Relationships - A mediator can help you effectively communicate your interests
and point of view to the other side. This is an important benefit when you want
to preserve a relationship.
What Is The Disadvantage Of Using ADR?
- You may go to court anyway - If you cannot
resolve your dispute using ADR, you may
still have to spend time and money resolving your lawsuit through the courts.