U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Mediation and Arbitration - Their Promise and Performance as Alternatives to Court (From Analysis of Judicial Reform, P 61-76, 1982, Philip L DuBois, ed. - See NCJ-83815)

NCJ Number
C A McEwen; R J Maiman
Date Published
Findings are summarized from evaluations of the degree to which arbitration and mediation have achieved their major goals as alternatives to court.
Major goals of arbitration and mediation are (1) reduction of the burden of caseload and cost on courts, (2) an increase in the accessibility of justice to disputants, and (3) improvement of the quality of justice. The case for alternatives to court as a means of reducing costs to the State has not been proven; however, since policymakers currently seem more willing to provide funds for innovative dispute-resolution programs than for conventional court expenses, mediation and arbitration may offer one of the few ways of increasing judicial budgets in an age of diminishing resources. Data on the issue of access to justice are only slightly more compelling. While mediation and arbitration do not increase access in any objective sense, there is evidence that mediation is viewed by disputants as less intimidating than adjudication. Improving the quality of justice is the policy goal most elusive for objective measurement, but it shows the most striking advantage for mediation. When quality is measured as the participants' sense of a fair outcome and, in civil cases, their willingness to abide by it, mediation is a considerable improvement over adjudication; however, if the question is whether alternatives to court have enhanced social justice more broadly, the answer is less clear and less subject to empirical than philosophical inquiry. Forty references are listed. (Author summary modified)