WASHINGTON (AP) _ The nation's federal trial courts would have to use arbitration, mediation and other kinds of alternative methods for resolving disputes under a bill passed by the House and sent to the president Saturday.

Courts with programs already in place would be required to review and improve them.

The legislation, approved by voice, is aimed at reducing court backlogs and the high costs of litigation.

It ``will provide the federal courts with the tools necessary to present quality alternatives to expensive federal litigation,'' said Rep. Howard Coble, R-N.C., the bill's sponsor.

He said the bill had the support of the American Bar Association and the Justice Department.

Under the measure, each of the 94 federal district courts would require litigants in civil cases to consider using alternative dispute resolution.

The courts would have to establish guidelines for arbiters and other third parties hired to help resolve these cases and ensure confidentiality.

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The bill is H.R. 3528.