The ABCs of ADR by Danielle Stubbs


Alternative Dispute Resolution, also known by the acronym “ADR,” is one of the most common ways that parties resolve issues in the South Carolina legal system. In some cases, parties are required to go through ADR before being able to go to trial (See Rule 3 of the South Carolina ADR Court Rules for full rule and exceptions). In other instances, judges may use their discretion to order parties to go through ADR, as is often seen in Probate and Magistrates Courts.  

Although mandatory in some cases, many people involved in lawsuits may choose to undergo ADR instead of a trial, as it can save both time and money and offer a level of confidentiality that is not afforded by traditional trials.  

South Carolina recognizes three types of ADR: 

  • Negotiation – Think of negotiation as a discussion. In this form of ADR, parties attempt to resolve the issues themselves. Attorneys may or may not be involved, depending on the wishes of the parties. However, being represented by an attorney during these negotiations is recommended. 
  • Mediation – Mediation is, essentially, assisted negotiation. During mediation, parties still try to resolve the issue themselves, but a trained mediator is present to go between the parties to facilitate the conversation and encourage cooperation. The mediator makes no judgments or decisions regarding the outcome of the case. Their job is to help the parties come to a compromise themselves, NOT decide for them.  
  • Arbitration – Arbitration is the form of ADR that most closely resembles what goes on in a courtroom. During arbitration, both parties present their arguments to a trained and qualified arbitrator, who will render a decision regarding the dispute. Often, this decision is binding, meaning the parties must follow it. If one of the parties does not comply with the decision, the other party may seek a court order to enforce the agreement.   

Alternative Dispute Resolution, or “ADR,” is one of the many ways legal disputes can be resolved in South Carolina. The best avenue of dispute resolution varies on a case-to-case basis, so it’s important to speak with your attorney to weigh your options before deciding. Whether going through negotiation, mediation, arbitration, or a trial, the attorneys at The Miller Law Firm, P.A. are ready and capable to see you through it.  

Danielle Stubbs is a part-time paralegal intern at The Miller Law Firm, P.A. with special interests in Personal Injury and Family Law. To learn more about the rules and procedures of alternative dispute resolution or to speak with an attorney, please contact the office at (864)527-0413.