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Dispute resolution

Dispute resolution refers to the general process of resolving disputes between parties and includes lawsuits and other types of alternative dispute resolution, including arbitration, mediation, conciliation, and many types of negotiation.

Some see it only referring to the extra-judicial adjudication increasingly utilized to resolve conflict and potential conflict between and among individuals, corporate entities, and governmental agencies (as well as being utilized across national boundaries).

Flexibility, costs far below those of traditional advocacy jurisprudence, and speedy resolution of disputes (among other perceived advantages) have led to these processes experiencing steadily increasing acceptance and utilization. However some have criticized these methods as taking away the right to redress one's grievances to the courts: sometimes extrajudicial dispute resolution may not be the fairest way for parties that are not in an equal bargaining relationship (e.g. a consumer and a large multinational corporation); some courts have refused to enforce alternative dispute resolution clauses in adhesion contracts.

Key to the dispute resolution process is the need to have an adjudicator who can function effectively as judge, mediator or arbitrator. In civil law systems judges are jurists who are trained at scientific investigation techniques, the process of determining the veracity of evidence and the inquisitorial system of adjudication. In the United States many states now have mediation programs and some of them require the mediators to have a legal education. Arbitrators are often retired judges. Judges are often experienced trial lawyers who have litigated many cases over many years before being appointed or elected to the judiciary.

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