ADR and Litigation

What is ‘ADR’

‘ADR’ is an abbreviation for alternative dispute resolution and as the name suggests refers to methods of dispute resolution that are alternatives to commonplace litigation in the UK Courts, that tends to become rather costly for the parties involved. Some of the commonly used ADR methods include:

  • Negotiation.
  • Arbitration.
  • Adjudication.
  • Mediation.


Usually a straightforward form of ADR but dependent on the complexity of the parties cases could turn out to be rather tricky. Negotiations for settlement of a dispute can take the form of a telephone calls, face to face meetings and email exchanges. If the issues to be discussed are complex it is better for the parties concerned that negotiations are recorded in writing for the obvious reasons. The parties may also decide whether they wish for the negotiations to be prevented from being referred to in Court should they fail (without prejudice negations).


Commonly used to resolve disputes regarding commercial contracts, in arbitration an independent third party decides on how to resolve a dispute, with the majority of cases the arbitrator’s decision is binding and cannot be questioned in Court. Despite the apparent similarity with conventional litigation, a significant difference is that in arbitration the decision of the arbitrator must remain confidential unless the parties agree to the contrary. The cost of the same will vary depending the nature and the complexity of the dispute concerned.


A method usually used to resolve consumer complaints and grievances. It is similar to arbitration and the cost of the adjudication varies, in the majority of cases consumer adjudication schemes offer solutions free of charge. A further advantage for the consumer is that adjudication is non-binding and so if an individual is unhappy with a decision, if appropriate may take the case to court.


In mediation an impartial mediator assist the parties into negotiating a settlement to their dispute. As in most cases, if the parties are not willing to negotiate with each other in person or a relationship has broken down, the mediator acts as an intermediary. All negotiations that take place during mediation remain confidential and without prejudice, as with the above the cost is dependent on the nature and complexity of the case at hand.


ADR offers forms of dispute resolution that can be used before or even after a case has been taken to court, it is always advisable that parties look at the most cost effective way of resolving a dispute, although there may be ill feeling between parties, ADR should always be considered before commencement of proceedings in court.Â

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