What is Alternative Dispute Resolution?

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is a collective term used to describe a number of processes whereby an independent person attempts to help the parties resolve a dispute. Achieving a settlement through ADR is a cost effective and time efficient way in which the settlement of a dispute between the parties can be negotiated without the need of intervention by the Courts.

ADR is utilised in many kinds of legal disputes and can be engaged before or during a legal case.

Forms of ADR

ADR can be conducted through the following processes

  • Conciliation: At conciliation, a conciliator helps parties identify issues and brainstorm options and alternatives with the hope of reaching a settlement.
  • Arbitration: An arbitrator is appointed to whom the parties to a dispute submit their evidence. The arbitrator will make a determination on the facts and evidence presented by the parties.
  • Mediation: An independent mediator is appointed by the parties to facilitate communications between parties. The mediator will assist the parties in identifying the key issues at the heart of the dispute and communicate those settlement offers between the parties.

Advantages of Mediation

There are many advantages of attempting mediation in order to reach a settlement. These include:

  • Each party is directly involved in negotiating an agreement;
  • Reaching an agreement at mediation is far less costly than going to Court. If a dispute goes to Court, extra fees are charged for a hearing. In addition, Courts may make orders that require an unsuccessful party to pay the successful party’s legal costs.
  • A mediator may encourage parties to explore solutions that had not been previously considered by the parties.

Benefits of Alternative Dispute Resolution

ADR is often considered a better option than letting a Court or tribunal make a decision. This is because ADR is usually cheaper, quicker and less stressful. Furthermore, it allows the parties to have a greater influence over the potential settlement of the matter as well as possibly preserving the relationship between the disputants moving forward.

ADR has a long history of high success rates and party satisfaction. It is encouraged that parties engaged in ADR prior to commencing legal proceedings.

ADR can also be utilised throughout legal proceedings to avoid the costs involved with progressing a matter to a final hearing.

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