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Alternative Dispute Resolution

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is the name used to describe a number of ways of solving a legal dispute without having to go to court.

The main advantages of resolving your dispute with alternative dispute resolution ADR is that it is usually:

  • Quicker than through the courts

  • More flexible

  • More cost effective than through the courts

  • Less stressful

  • The ADR procedure is confidential.

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Alternative dispute resolution can also narrow down the legal issues, before going to court.

Some ADR processes are legally binding. This means that you won't be able to take your legal dispute to court if you accept the decision from Alternative Dispute Resolution but later change your mind.

What types of Alternative Dispute Resolution are available

The main types of ADR available for solving a legal dispute are:

  • mediation

  • ombudsman scheme

  • arbitration.

Points to consider when thinking about Alternative Dispute Resolution

  • what do you want to achieve from the process?

  • how much time do you have to put into the process?

  • is the other side, defendant still solvent?

  • do you want to avoid meeting the defendant in person?

  • how much will Alternative Dispute Resolution cost v’s court proceedings?



With mediation, a mediator will help both parties to a legal dispute to focus upon the issues and to consider what the best way of solving it will be.

The demand and needs of both you and your defendant are taken into account and you will try to find some sort of common ground in order to find a reasonable solution to your dispute. The mediator is there to assist both sides to reach an agreement that both are prepared to accept, they don’t make the decisions for you, just help you along with making your own decision

Mediators are often self-employed experts, who should act totally impartiality and help both sides reach an agreement. They are not cheap, and some can cost about £1,000 per day.

You can make a mediated agreement legally binding if you make a signed mediated agreement.


Arbitration uses an independent arbitrator, usually from a professional body to make an independent decision about your legal dispute. The final decision made by the arbiter is made from the papers sent in and the evidence that has been presented by you and the defendant. The evidence may have been presented only in written format, or you and your opponent may have been asked to each present your side of the story.

The decision the arbitrator makes is legally binding, and you will not be able to go to court later if you don't agree with the outcome. In many arbitrations there is no court hearing.

Arbitration schemes are often set up for building disputes.

If you choose an independent arbitration you will have to pay a fee, although you may be able to recover some of the costs of the arbitration back if you win the argument.

Ombudsman schemes

Ombudsman schemes cover many services, including financial companies, such as banks, building societies and insurance companies, as well as energy and telephone and internet companies.


The Ombudsman service is free for consumers to use and small businesses.

You can still take court action if you're not happy with the Ombudsman’s decision, although the court may take the Ombudsman's decision into account when they make a ruling.

Current Ombudsman schemes include:

  • financial services

  • pensions


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