I once sat on a jury where for a full week, day after day, I listened to painstakingly detailed and boring testimony regarding a construction renovation gone wrong. My fellow jury members and I debated for less than 2 hours at the conclusion of the rather lengthy testimony, and unanimously concluded that both the owner and the contractor were at fault. The awards we granted to each of them almost zero-ed out. Both sides had their day in court, but at what cost?
The civil court system exists to help us resolve our conflicts. But have we come to depend on it too much? Shouldn’t we be taking some responsibility for our actions and trying to resolve our own conflicts first? With seemingly increasing conflict in the world, have we lost the desire, or foresight to try and compromise, or resolve our own disputes? In a conflict, all too often our knee-jerk reaction is to say “see you in court”. Unfortunately, courts are now inundated with litigants seeking justice, and sadly, the result of many court actions is anything but justice.
Luckily, several forms of alternative dispute resolution are now becoming mainstream, and the public needs to be aware of these alternatives. It is now typical for real estate purchase agreements and employment contracts to require arbitration if there is a dispute over its terms; E-bay hosts on online dispute resolution system; and most county and civil courts order mediation at some stage of the process.