Business disputes are expected to grow in 2021-2022, but litigation and conventional arbitration can be poor options. The movement toward non-adversarial dispute resolution is gaining momentum.
A 2021 survey of business owners and managers reported a higher frequency of disputes throughout 2020 primarily due to the Covid-19 pandemic and its unexpected disruption of normal business operations. Most of the increase in conflicts grew out of commercial and labor disputes that are expected to continue into 2022.
In response to this higher volume of disputes, corporations increased the size of their in-house legal teams and enlarged their expenditure for dispute resolution, even without growing their revenue. Generating more work for in-house legal departments and outside counsel means planning for higher litigation costs. Lawyers litigate; that’s what they are trained to do.
Pandemic Delayed Court Calendars
But the Covid-19 pandemic closed most courthouses throughout the U.S. for nearly a year, creating staggering case backlogs that will take years to clear. Now, hoping to resolve a dispute promptly in court seems even more unrealistic than usual. And with the Delta variant threatening to prolong the return to normal operations, litigation offers still less promise.
The slow pace, high cost, and unpredictable results of litigation led many businesses and organizations to turn to alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods like conventional arbitration. But over time, those who relied on ADR to reduce costs and speed settlements discovered that the system often produced neither.
Lawyer-Driven Solutions Look Alike
As Just Resolve’s founder Rob Christopher writes in his upcoming book, Just Right: How Neutral Driven Dispute Resolution Can Close the Gap in American Civil Justice “Whenever alternatives to court are introduced, lawyers want them to be lawyer-driven, with plenty of due process protections. Hence there’s a tendency over time for alternatives like arbitration to increasingly look, feel, and cost like litigation. . .” Hourly billings for lawyers, experts, and judge-like arbitrators, along with pre-arbitration discovery practices can mimic the judicial system’s worst features.
According to June 2021 Wall Street Journal article, Amazon is among several large corporations abandoning conventional, lawyer-driven arbitration because the costs were even higher than defending class-action litigation. It was the lawyers in the article who now favored the conventional arbitration system.
For businesses and organizations on Main Street, the choosing between lawyer-driven litigation or lawyer-driven arbitration can feel like choosing among the first of Henry Ford’s Model Ts offered for sale; “You can have one in any color you like as long as it’s black.”
Non-adversarial, Neutral Driven Dispute Resolution Works
The modern movement among cost-conscious and productivity focused business executives is toward the non-adversarial process called Neutral Driven Dispute Resolution. The concept works because it reduces unnecessary hostility while enlisting the expertise of an industry specialist, chosen by the mutual agreement of the parties, to resolve the dispute fairly considering all the parties’ documents and supportive material. Disputes are resolved within weeks, and at a fraction of the cost.
No lawyers. No hourly fees to discover hidden evidence for use against an opponent in an impending courtroom battle.
Instead, companies and business associates resolve disputes with limited-stakes in a manner that preserves their mutual good will, maintains the previously profitable relationship, and eliminates the months or years-long disruption of a typical commercial lawsuit.
#Just Resolve, LLC is leading the social and business movement to encourage cooperative dispute resolution with a Neutral Driven Dispute Resolution process championed by Rob Christopher. Eliminating the adversarial approach to dispute resolution permits each of the parties to a limited-stakes dispute to obtain a fair and equitable conclusion to the occasional disagreements that arise between business partners and associates involved in regular commercial transactions.
Keeping a close and mutually beneficial relationship with longtime customers, vendors, and suppliers is key to sustainable business success. Disputes happen, by leveraging a non-adversarial approach to just resolve disagreements without litigation, business owners can focus on growth and customers instead of costly litigation.