Commentary: Court News: OK's Alternative Dispute Resolution Programs Offer Citizens a Choice

Article excerpt

Recognizing the fact that many disputes that arise between citizens may be of small social or economic magnitude and might be costly and time consuming if resolved through judicial proceedings, the Legislature in 1983 enacted the Dispute Resolution Act.

The purpose of the act was to provide Oklahomans convenient access to dispute resolution processes, which are fair, effective, inexpensive and expeditious.

Many times, disputes that might otherwise end up as bitter lawsuits can be resolved fairly and equitably through less formal proceedings. Alternative dispute resolution also helps alleviate civil case backlogs in the state judicial system, the law recognizes.

Oklahoma's dispute resolution programs are administered and supervised under the direction of the Administrative Office of the Courts, the Supreme Court's managerial division. Any county, municipality, accredited law school or state agency may establish dispute resolution and mediation programs, pursuant to the dispute resolution act.

Prior to commencement of dispute resolution proceedings, the disputing parties are required to enter into a written agreement which sets the ground rules by which a disagreement will be settled. …