By: Dr. Justin Wood, Th.d, CJME
Direct negotiation is a dispute resolution technique process at the beginning of the ADR spectrum. It is often a good starting point to see if a conflict can be resolved without needing to use mediation, arbitration or court litigation. In direct negotiation, the parties may or may not be assisted by a professional neutral who is trained at facilitating communication to achieve a resolution.
Throughout direct negotiation, the parties collectively retain complete control over the process and its outcome. Together the parties specify the ground rules and schedule, select the professional neutral, and establish procedures for when and how they communicate, listen and respond. They may use their own individual negotiation styles and strategies, decide whether to gather outside information or consult experts to help resolve the case, and make the decision to end the process at any time. This is not a binding ADR process and the parties do not have to accept the outcome unless it is mutually agreed upon.
If the parties can come to an agreement during their negotiating process on their own, they save the most amount of time and money. The parties can retain their relationship and even better their future interactions.
In direct negotiation, the parties have no formal process and no requirements which must be meet, unless they wish to set requirements or guidelines. If you have ever bought a car, you have performed direct negotiation with the seller.
Being the lowest level of the ADR spectrum; yet, the most common ADR process used throughout the world, millions of people are involved in direct negotiation everyday.
If negotiations breakdown or communications get stalled the next steps in the process are:
Conciliation – A 3rd party, most commonly neutral but not required, helps the parties workout their differences and may suggest or even consult other parties and/or outside professionals like an accountant, doctor, insurance adjuster, etc.
Mediation – A 3rd party neutral who opens communications and facilitates the negotiation process. This process may or may not include legal counsel at the party’s discretion but is not a binding process unless the parties reach an agreement.
Arbitration – A 3rd party neutral or panel or neutrals who make a decision on the dispute based on the information from the parties and/or their legal counsel and will write an award which, depending on the parties agreement, may be binding and enforceable in a court of law.
Litigation – A court judge who will hear the parties dispute and/or their legal counsel argument and make a binding judgement.
We would be happy to assist you with direct negotiation or any other ADR process to help resolve your dispute. Please contact us for a consultation.