Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is the process of solving disputes outside courts. This falls outside the purview of the regular judicial process. Although, the process was criticized vehemently by parties and attorneys equally, it has gained considerable acceptance over the years. There are instances where courts have directed parties resort to ADR before granting them permission for trial.
ADR can also be conducted online on a global level, in which case it is called Online dispute resolution (ODR). However, the solutions ODR can offer are very limited; therefore, it is not in all means a kind of ADR.
The different types of ADR methods are:
- Negotiation: Parties voluntary choose this method of ADR and there is no third party who facilitates the resolution process or imposes a resolution.
- Mediation: A third party called the mediator is in charge of the resolution process. The mediator may suggest a resolution, but the suggestion is not binding on the parties. The solution suggested by the mediator is called “mediator’s proposal.”
- Arbitration: It is similar to negotiation in that parties voluntarily choose this method. It is similar to mediation in that there is a third party (arbitrator) who acts as a private judge. The difference lies in the fact that the solutions put down by the arbitrator is binding on the parties. Arbitrations often stem from contracts where parties agree that any future dispute concerning the agreement will be resolved by arbitration.
- Conciliation: Parties utilize the services of a conciliator. The conciliator meets with the parties separately and attempts to resolve their differences. Conciliation differs from arbitration because of its lesser legal standing. Also, unlike an arbitrator, the conciliator has no authority to seek evidence or call witnesses, usually writes no decision, and makes no award. Conciliation differs from mediation in that the parties rarely face each other across the table in the presence of the conciliator.
Some of the reasons why ADR methods are widely preferred are:
- increased caseload of traditional courts,
- ADR imposes fewer costs than litigation,
- The proceedings are more confidential,
- parties have greater control over the selection of the individual or individuals who will decide their dispute and over the entire resolution process.