What is commonly referred to as alternative dispute resolution in other states is known as complementary dispute resolution in New Jersey. This difference in legal terminology is due to the fact that the New Jersey courts view dispute resolution as a complement to trial proceedings rather than an alternative to them.
Complementary dispute resolution proceedings involve several different types. The most commonly utilized include settlement hearings, arbitration and mediation. In a settlement proceeding, the parties will appear before a neutral third party who will suggest a possible settlement to resolve the dispute. Mediators will try to assist the parties by facilitating communication between them, but have no power to render a decision. In arbitration, the parties can present their sides to a neutral third party who then will issue a decision which may or may not be binding, depending upon the circumstances.