Here is the Letter to the Editor that ACR-GNY sent to the editor:
To the Editor:
I write to correct a fundamental (albeit common) error in describing Alternative Dispute Resolution processes. The headline states that a "mediator" had halted the City's plan, when in fact the dispute was decided by an arbitrator. In mediation, disputing parties meet with an impartial and neutral person (the mediator) who assists them in the negotiation of their differences. Any agreement, reached or not reached, is decided by the parties and not the mediator. In arbitration, however, an arbitrator has the power to impose a binding decision -- in accordance with the authority conferred by the parties in an agreement.
Had the parties successfully mediated their disputes, there might well have been a mutually-acceptable and final outcome. As President of the metropolitan area's chapter of the leading organization dedicated to promoting alternative dispute and conflict resolution nationwide, I think it is important to clarify these seemingly subtle, however very important, distinctions.
Sheila M. Sproule
Association for Conflict Resolution of Greater New York
Please learn more about ADR at our website: www.acrgny.org