Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is a mechanism that was introduced under the Legal Services Authorities Act 1987 in order to provide an alternative method to the official judicial procedures in resolving disputes. It is an effort to design a workable and fair alternative to the traditional judicial system. It is a fast track system of dispensing justice with the main characteristic is to accomplish an agreement between the parties involved in legal conflicts and disputes, which can be resolved privately.
ADR provides a confidential and alternative method of tackling legal disputes, which avoids going public through the courts. It gives parties in dispute the opportunity to work through disputed issues with the help of a neutral third party. It is generally faster and less expensive than going to court and can reduce stress from court appearances, time and cost.
The most common types of ADR are conciliation, mediation, arbitration, adjudication, neutral evaluation, collaborative law (Divorce or Family Law), settlement conferences and community dispute resolution programs. Conciliation is included as a category, but for simplicity may be regarded as a form of mediation.
ADR can be used to resolve all civil disputes including Personal Injury, Medical and Legal Malpractice, Underinsured and Uninsured Motorist, Property, Casualty and General Liability, Professional Liability, Commercial, Employment, Insurance Coverage, Workers’ Compensation, Contract and Family Law matters. In some jurisdictions, ADR scope is limited to commercial disputes only.
ADR is not compulsory. There is no general rule in law that says that ADR must be used to resolve a dispute. However, there are cases where ADR is compulsory in a number of business sectors, particularly in consumer disputes.
The best amicable method in ADR are Arbitration, Adjudication, Conciliation, Mediation, Facilitation and Negotiation.
Arbitration is like the court process as parties still provide testimony and give evidence similar to a trial but it is usually less formal. Arbitration is final and legally binding – it is enforceable in the same way as a court judgement.
Adjudication is a simpler form of Arbitration. It is a process by which an Arbiter reviews evidence and argumentation, including legal reasoning set forth by opposing parties or litigants to come to a binding decision which determines rights and obligations between the parties involved.
Mediation/ Conciliation is the process of negotiation with the assistance of a neutral third party (Mediator). The parties do not reach a resolution unless all sides agree. The Mediator has no decision making power, which means the dispute will be resolved on the terms of the disputants and isn’t legally binding until all sign a legal agreement documenting the resolution.
Facilitation is a process in which a trained and experienced Facilitator, who is not a stakeholder, plans, develops, and conducts a structured and effective meeting that produces a clear result commonly understood and supported by all participants.
Negotiation is a method by which people settle differences. It is a process by which compromise or agreement is reached while avoiding argument and dispute. In any disagreement, individuals understandably aim to achieve the best possible outcome for their position (or perhaps an organisation they represent). A process has no fixed rules but follows a predictable pattern. It is the simplest means for redressal of disputes. In this mode the parties begin their talk without involvement of any third party.
Courtesy of Osgood Law School of York University
The processes of Concillation (Third Party Neutral) are preferred over Adversarial (Adjudicated) ones. Disputants are recommended to explore the ADR processes (Negotiation, Facilitation, Mediation and Arbitration) in sequential order, prior to considering Litigation as a last resort.
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