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 firstname.lastname@example.org or start a live chat today.
*This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.