We live in a world of litigation. It seems every time you hear the news, some one is suing some one else for something and the wheels of justice can turn very slowly and at great cost. Enter – Do It Yourself (DIY) justice.

More formally known as alternative dispute resolution (ADR), one could argue it was first deployed by divorcing couples who could not afford the legal fees to go their separate ways. However, many individuals and companies now turn to this form of dispute resolution to lower their legal expenses each year.

In the business world, it's all about lower costs – all costs – including legal costs. In most cases, DIY justice for businesses can be broken down into two major types of resolution: arbitration or mediation and negotiation. Although state and local laws may affect the specific carriage of this type of justice, the basic premise remains the same – to encourage both parties in a dispute to find a way to resolve their differences without stepping into a court room.

• Arbitration

Arbitration as a form of DIY justice is the most historical method of dispute resolution. Much like a formal trial, it usually involves lawyers and formal documentation. The key difference from the litigation process, however, is that the participants pay private parties to bring the matter to resolution.

While this form of dispute resolution may be more cost effective than going to court, due to the formality generally employed with this technique, it can still take long periods of time to reach resolution. With experts being used in the process, that time will usually cost money – even though it may cost less than formal court proceedings.

• Mediation and Negotiation

The second form of DIY justice involves negotiation between parties in conflict – with or without a neutral third party assisting outside of the courtroom. Negotiation can be the most cost effective method of resolution – assuming the parties can keep their emotions in check long enough to settle the matter at hand in an informal setting.

Mediation would come into play only when a neutral third party needs to step in to clear the air, bring the facts to the table and offer creative solutions that may not only keep the parties out of court, but may also leave a business relationship in tact. Essentially, this is the last stop before the court room for the two parties to settle in good faith.

Regardless of what you call it – alternative dispute resolution or Do It Yourself justice, it can decrease the costs by cutting down formal court time and legal wrangling. Each party to the dispute should weigh their options and seek the method that best suits the individual situation. After all, time in business needs to be focused on making profits, not war with other parties – the less time spent in lengthy and costly court battles, the more profit goes to the bottom line – and that what business is all about.