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Alternative Dispute Resolution refers to methods of resolving disputes without going to court.

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Introduction

Alternative Dispute Resolution Sometimes the courts are not the most appropriate places to resolve civil disputes as they may not produce the most satisfactory outcome. Alternative Dispute Resolution refers to methods of resolving disputes without going to court. This has proved to be effective and a necessary alternative over the years. Resolving disputes via the fixed legal framework of court hearings may be inappropriate if parties prefer to be in control. The aggressive atmosphere in courts may divide the parties involved which may be detrimental if there is a need to sustain relationships. Judges may not have the technical knowledge required and would bring in expert witnesses. This incurs time and cost. Also, enforced solutions may not necessarily be the optimum solution that both parties would have preferred. Privacy is also an issue with court hearings as business disputes would be better kept private. Hence alternative dispute resolution has become increasingly popular as a necessary alternative to resolve disputes without the problems of court hearings. There are various forms of alternative dispute resolution. ...read more.

Middle

They process claims more quickly than civil courts. As panels play a more interventionist role rather than enforcing solutions, they may be more effective in reaching a satisfactory outcome for the case. However, appeals made may only be made on a point of law. In Yeboah v Crofton, the local government officer complained racial discrimination and the Employment Tribunal found in his favour. The decision was reversed by the Employment Appeal Tribunal but was restored by Court of Appeal. This is a weakness(ineffectiveness) of the tribunal system as litigants would have been able to appeal through the various methods provided in courts. The speed and informality may lead to poor decisions being made. The doctrine of precedent is not followed, hence it is unpredictable. This may also lead to suspicion of the fairness in tribunals. This shows that tribunals may not necessarily be the better alternative to courts. Another form of ADR is arbitration where parties agree to submit their claims and agree to accept the binding decision of an independent third party. ...read more.

Conclusion

However, mediators may overstep boundaries and take control of the decision making process. This loses the purpose of mediation and is ineffective as parties may prefer to make their own decision. In conciliation, there may be a disadvantage (weakness) of imbalance of powers between parties such as big vs small firms. Hence it may not necessarily be the better (most popular) forum for all disputes especially when one party is acting less voluntarily than the other. Negotiation is the cheapest and most private form of ADR where parties negotiate their terms. However, it may fail if lawyers are involved as they incur cost and may formalize the process. ADR processes claims more quickly than civil courts. The strict rules of precedent allow more flexibility into the system. They are less formal and less intimidating which ensures a high level of satisfaction. All methods of ADR are effective in their own ways and are able to overcome problems of court hearings. However, they do have their limitations such as decisions are hard to be enforced or lack of faith by people. Overall, it has become a necessary alternative. UK is moving towards ADR methods and Woolf reforms impose judge duties to encourage parties to use ADR and facilitate its use. ...read more.

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