About this section
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is a resolution process that allows parties to come to an agreement outside of the Court system using an independent third person to help resolve the parties dispute. ADR can save time and money, and is often less confrontational and better able to preserve relationships. Parties are often required to try and resolve the dispute through ADR before commencing proceedings before a Court. ADR may also be accessed independently by parties, be ordered by the Court during proceedings, or required as part of a contract. There are many private and government organisations that offer ADR services.
ADR can take many forms, so it can be flexible to the particular situation and needs of the parties. Three forms are particularly common: conciliation, mediation and arbitration. Conciliation is a common form of ADR, and is the most collaborative and informal process. An independent conciliator helps participants to identify the issues, develop options and try to reach an agreement. A conciliator provides advice on the disputed matters, the options for resolving them and may make some suggestions about how to do this. Like conciliation, mediation is a process managed by an independent third party called a mediator. The mediator helps participants to present their side of a dispute and to reach a mutually agreeable outcome. A mediator does not give advice or make a decision on the facts of the dispute or its outcome, but rather only guide the participants through the process. Arbitration is a process managed by an independent arbitrator who is often skilled in the particular area relevant to the dispute. Like a proceeding before a Court, the parties each have time to present their points of view and arguments to the arbitrator and the arbitrator then makes a decision. Arbitration is usually a much more formal and structured process than mediation or conciliation, and often the decision of the arbitrator will be binding on the parties.