What is Alternative Dispute Resolution and why is it important?

Female hands shaking

Alternative Dispute Resolution (“ADR”) is exactly what it says on the tin- it’s an alternative way to attempt to resolve a dispute. If you haven’t been involved in any litigation before, you may not be familiar with the different types of ADR and why it’s important.

Some of the most common types of ADR include:

  • Mediation: this is where an independent mediator will listen to both parties and attempt to aid a settlement. The mediator has no decision making power, like a judge would if the matter went to court, but it can be very effective for the right type of dispute. In some cases, a party may just be looking for an apology from the other party more so than any other remedy, and so mediation would be a good way to deal with their grievances. Generally mediation is non-binding, but if an agreement is reached, a settlement agreement can then be drawn up and signed by all parties.
  • Negotiation: this involves the parties attempting to reach a settlement without assistance from a third party. It can be through written correspondence, telephone conversations or round table meetings.
  • Early neutral evaluation: This is where an independent person is asked to provide a non-binding opinion on the merits and evaluate the facts, law and evidence on either a particular issue or the whole case. The idea is for both parties to then be able to engage in more serious negotiations.
  • Arbitration: this is an alternative to litigation. An agreement to arbitrate is usually contractual. It is where an independent arbitrator makes an award to finalise the dispute in a judicial capacity. The award is binding on all parties.

There are advantages and disadvantages for each method and one method of ADR may be suitable for one type of dispute, but not for another. We can advise you on the most suitable methods of ADR for your particular dispute.

Why is it important?

It is a common intention of solicitors, barristers and judges that court proceedings are a last resort. Failure to attempt ADR could result in the court imposing costs sanctions against you, for example, by not awarding you your costs if you win.

If the parties can reach a settlement where they have agreed an outcome, rather than having an outcome imposed on them, this not only saves time and the costs associated with lengthy litigation, but it can provide you with more flexibility and control over the outcome. It can also salvage or maintain relationships between the parties.  This is particularly important in disputes involving neighbours or where the parties will have an ongoing business relationship.

If you would like further advice regarding ADR, or if you are involved in a dispute which is suitable for ADR, then please contact our dispute resolution team for more information by calling us, email info@hartbrown.co.uk or start a live chat today.

*This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.


Lucy Penfold

Associate, Dispute Resolution

Lucy is an Associate in the Dispute Resolution team here at Hart Brown and specialises in property litigation and contentious trusts and probate. Lucy completed...

Lucy-Senior Solicitor in the Dispute Resolution

Associate, Dispute Resolution

Lucy Penfold

Lucy is an Associate in the Dispute Resolution team here at Hart Brown and specialises in property litigation and contentious trusts and probate.

Lucy completed her law degree at Kingston University before completing the Legal Practice Course at the College of Law in Guildford (now the University of Law). Lucy qualified in 2012 and brings with her general commercial litigation experience from Central London and Surrey law firms.

A member of the Property Litigation Association, Lucy deals with all areas of property litigation including varied landlord and tenant disputes, evictions, neighbour disputes, boundary disputes, commercial property disputes, property disrepairs and dilapidations.

Lucy also deals with various contentious probate matters, including interpreting the terms of wills, brining or defending claims to contest wills or trusts, and executor removal disputes.

Lucy’s general commercial litigation experience allows her to have a pragmatic and commercial approach to any legal issue faced.

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