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25 January 2022

What is Alternative Dispute Resolution, and why is it becoming more popular?

According to a 2019 report, Alternative Dispute Resolution is now more common than litigation – find out why this method can be both more economical and faster than proceeding to court, therefore making it more popular.

Alternative Dispute Resolution or Appropriate Dispute Resolution, is the process of resolving a conflict or dispute between two parties without needing to go to court.

This route to resolving a conflict is not available for criminal cases, which are dealt with by and on behalf of the State before the Criminal Courts, and so most cases of alternative dispute resolution are instances of civil disputes.

Examples of civil disputes include:

What are the main types of Alternative Dispute Resolution?
  1. Negotiation – during this process, both sides seek to find common ground on a dispute by considering the viewpoint of the opposing party. Examples of disputes that are addressed through negotiation include grievances around employment or director responsibilities within an organisation, or disputes with 3rd parties, such as trading partners and investors. This can take place either in person or in writing.
  2. Mediation – in this method of dispute resolution, an independent party, the mediator, is present and seeks to help the disagreeing parties reach an agreement that satisfies both sides. The mediator does not have any role in making a judgement on the matters being discussed, only facilitating reaching an agreement. Upon resolution a document called a settlement agreement is drafted, detailing what both sides have agreed to comply with. However, the conclusion reached is not legally binding. Mediation is less formal and therefore usually less expensive than arbitration or litigation processes.
  3. Conciliation – This is a similar process to mediation with the addition that a conciliator is also able to propose compromises and agreements between the parties. As with mediation, the conciliator is a neutral third party, who can meet the parties to the dispute either together or separately.
  4. Arbitration – a more formal legal process, arbitration utilises an independent arbitrator to make a decision about the dispute. All parties provide evidence and the arbitrator then uses this information to come to a conclusion, seeking to resolve the dispute. There are no court-imposed deadlines, and so it can be more flexible than proceeding to litigation. Arbitration decisions are legally binding and they are generally able to be enforced in a similar way to court judgments, so taking legal advice is highly recommended.


Why is Alternative Dispute Resolution popular?

As Alternative Dispute Resolution does not involve going through court proceedings, not only is it usually far less expensive as a route to resolution, but it is also faster.

In September 2021 figures from the Ministry of Justice showed that, although delays in cases going through the civil courts reduced slightly in the second quarter of 2021, it still takes around 49 weeks to get a small claim from issue to trial. This rises to an average of 71 weeks for larger claims.

There is also a backlog in cases across the board due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, and so the attraction of a quicker, more flexible means of settling a dispute is apparent.


Which courses include the study of Alternative Dispute Resolution?

You can study dispute resolution as part of Law Training Centre’s SQE1 Prep course as well as within the Civil Litigation units studied at NALP Level 3, Level 4, and Level 7.



What is Dispute Resolution? | Lawbite
Alternative Dispute Resolution is so popular, but why? | Qredible
Alternative Dispute Resolution | AllAboutLaw
Suitability of ADRs to particular types of disputes – iPleaders
Huge delays persist in taking civil court claims to trial – Legal Futures

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