Alternative dispute resolution, or ADR as its commonly known, refers to resolving a dispute without going to court or a tribunal. Our dispute resolution solicitors in Brighton and Hove have extensive knowledge of all forms of alternative dispute resolution. Many of the cases that we take on are resolved without needing a court appearance, saving our clients costs, time, and worry.
What Is Alternative Dispute Resolution?
Alternative dispute resolution is the collective name given to a range of ways to settle disputes without going to court. Many people don’t understand the costs of taking a matter all the way to court for judgement, and those who do will always choose to settle out of court where possible to minimise not only their costs, but the risks of having to pay the other side’s costs if they lose.
Most will choose a form of alternative dispute resolution to achieve this. There are 3 major forms of alternative dispute resolution, including:
Mediation and Conciliation
This involves an independent mediator trained in facilitating communication between you and the other parties involved in the dispute. The mediator’s objective is to settle and resolve all the issues between the parties.
Mediation is the communication between the parties, whereas conciliation is the making of recommendations as to an outcome. Our dispute resolution solicitors will often use conciliation for employment disputes rather than commercial disputes.
The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) is compulsory if an individual wants to bring an Employment Tribunal claim.
This is more formal than mediation. Arbitration is a process which results in the dispute being resolved by an arbitrator’s final decision. The arbitrator is nominated by a third party who is qualified to handle particular types of arbitration.
Arbitration is particularly useful for disputes requiring a high level of technical knowledge and understanding, as the arbitrator may have experience or a background in the field of the dispute. It ensures privacy by avoiding commercially sensitive information being disclosed.
Sometimes arbitration is used when there is an international element and the parties wish to avoid multiple legal jurisdictions by consolidating decisions through the arbitrator. The arbitrator’s decision is final and binding on the parties. Our contract solicitors will draft arbitration clauses where instructed, to ensure arbitration is used if things go wrong.
Adjudication as a form of alternative dispute resolution is used heavily in disputes which stem from construction contracts. It’s a formal process involving a written ‘Notice of Adjudication‘ which sets out the details of the dispute.
The parties will agree and appoint an adjudicator. The aggrieved party will then serve a referral notice, or claim, setting out the dispute in detail. The other party will send a response to the referral notice, or defence. The decision will then be sent by the adjudicator within 28 days.
It is vitally important to remember that the decision of the adjudicator is final and binding.
Why Use Alternative Dispute Resolution?
There are two main reasons to use alternative dispute resolution:
Alternative dispute resolution can be much cheaper than taking a case to court. This is not only because of solicitor fees but there are also fees for issuing a claim in court. Currently, claim court fees range from £35 (for a claim up to £300) to £10,000 (for a claim of more than £200,000).
Even if your claim is not for money, for example if you are asking the court to tell someone to do something or stop someone from doing something, other fees apply. And if you win your case, there can also be further costs involved to enforce the judgment.
Some forms of alternative dispute resolution can be faster than going to court. Complex claims can take up to two years before the final hearing, and longer still if you have to enforce. Alternative dispute resolution can take place within a week or so, and the settlement agreement drafted and finalised shortly thereafter.
Why Use a Dispute Resolution Solicitor for Alternative Dispute Resolution?
Having a dispute solicitor on your side for alternative dispute resolution can bring immense benefits and minimise risks, including:
- Knowledge of the alternative dispute resolution process and other options on the table
- Balancing the risks, benefits and rewards for each process and setting them out clearly for your consideration
- Assembling the case on your behalf and in a coherent, comprehensive and objective manner, without emotions
- Providing advocacy, or representation at any physical hearings and producing documented witness statements that cover all issues
- Ensuring any outcome reached is drafted to your benefit and specifications
Remember that the outcomes of some forms of alternative dispute resolution, such as arbitration, are final and you won’t be able to appeal if things don’t go your way. A dispute resolution solicitor will help to maximise your chances of winning, or successfully defending yourself.
How Can Britton and Time Solicitors Help?
If you decide to use a form of alternative dispute resolution, you’re going to need to get everything right from the beginning. The party that understands the process will have the advantage. Good legal advice is important early on if you are going to be successful in any form of dispute.
Our dispute resolution solicitors will not only advise on the various forms of alternative dispute resolution, but also on the costs, benefits and risks involved. Tactically, you might be better off using the court system. Every case has its own issues that need to be considered carefully.
If you want advice or representation for alternative dispute resolution then contact us today or call us on 01273 726951 to book an initial consultation.