What is ADR?

Before outlining the four main types of ADR, it’s essential to know what is meant by this term. ADR stands for alternative dispute resolution, which refers to the different processes of settling a dispute without using litigation and resorting to the courts.

ADR has become an increasingly attractive route for dispute resolution as it maintains privacy, which is ideal for people who may want to keep a dispute out of the public courts.

The four types of alternative dispute resolution (ADR)

In the UK, there are four main types of ADR, which are negotiation, mediation, arbitration and conciliation.

Some forms of ADR aren’t legally binding. If an agreement isn’t legally binding, there is no legal enforcement on the agreement if one party decides to later change their mind. In this instance, the case will have to be brought back to court for a judge to make a legally binding decision.

Two people using negotiation which is a form of alternative dispute resolution ADR

1. Independent negotiation

Not legally binding

Negotiation is often the first option for those wishing to resolve a dispute. Simply because, in some cases, both parties can solve arguments by taking a ‘cards on the table’ approach and attempting to negotiate a compromise. If required, dispute resolution specialists can take instructions and negotiate on behalf of the parties.

This form of ADR is often overlooked because of how obvious it is. There is no impartial third party in negotiation to assist the parties with their negotiation, so the parties must work together to reach an agreement.


Positives Negatives
Can maintain a good relationship Not legally binding
Inexpensive Can be used as a stalling tactic
Fastest ADR process No guarantee of a resolution
Allows privacy No expert third party opinion
Mediator providing mediation form of ADR for a couple who are thinking about getting a divorce
Board room where a panel of arbitrators form of alternative dispute resolution will resolve a dispute
Conciliator providing their own opinion on an employment dispute
Courts where a dispute which could not be solved through ADR will be taken
One of our ADR solicitors