Although business and law are consistent features of everyday life in the United States, the presence of the lawsuit and adjacent litigation has caused many of us to consider that there are really only two classes of citizens. The first class of citizen is the litigant. The second class of citizen is the potential litigant.
Of course this is a tongue-in-check comment, but it sometimes seems that newspapers and television spend a tremendous amount of time concentrating on the status of suits, legal wrangling, and the subsequent fallout from their outcome. What seems clear is that while business law must be explicit on the subject of suites, other means of settling disputes, real or imagined, exist.
The article entitled, "Getting More for Less in Commercial Disputes," from the journal, The Greater Columbus Business Authority, on April 13, 1998, makes this point quite clearly. The author of the article, Kurt Tunnell, remarks that "Despite emphasizing greater efficiency and effectiveness, many executives have not devoted enough attention to avoiding one of the biggest drains of company resources, reputation and productivity: commercial lawsuits" (Tunnell, 1998).
While business law exists (in part) to clarify and settle the everyday disputes that arise in business, the idea of saving time and energy, while devoting resources to the more important details of getting on with life in the business lane, is very appealing. Mr. Tunnell is careful to delineate between the disputes that can be resolved by alternate dispute resolution (ADR) and those that cannot. The question then becomes, how useful is dispute resolution in the real world of business law?
Several years ago, the Department of Labor undertook a pilot project to test the cost effectiveness, timeliness, and general usefulness of ADR methods versus traditional methods of trial. A comparison of non-ADR and ADR cases showed that, in general, the average cost of an...