Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) has been around for a good while now but what is it and when should it be used?

ADR is any alternative process used to resolve a dispute without involving the court. Court action can be incredibly expensive, time consuming and sometimes unpredictable.

The most common type of ADR is mediation, where an independent party helps parties to come to a mutually acceptable outcome. It is not meant to establish the parties’ rights, it is a means to get disagreeing parties to come to an agreement they each can live with.

It is particularly suited to family disputes, where there may be a number of sensitivities and family members will be anxious to put differences behind them once a satisfactory outcome has been reached. 

Mediation is private, thus providing a confidential alternative to “airing dirty linen in court”. It can be speedy – an independent mediator is identified and a mediation set up at a time to suit all parties. Usually it takes place on neutral ground.

Our experience is that mediation is very effective in resolving partnership, property and executry disputes, but it can be used for any type of dispute including family and commercial. 

Litigation is by its nature adversarial. Battle lines are drawn early on and sometimes there is no way back. Sometimes, of course, it is important to establish and to vindicate legal rights, which only a court can do. Particularly if the dispute involves family members, however, think about mediation as an alternative form of dispute resolution.

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