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Law Talk: Alternative dispute resolution

Community Legal Services | News | October 6th, 2008

What is alternative dispute resolution?

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) includes negotiation, mediation and arbitration. They are almost always used outside of the traditional court system to solve problems between parties.

The process is voluntary, meaning the parties choose to use ADR. In addition, it is expeditious, meaning ADR avoids components of traditional litigation that prolong and delay resolution. ADR is flexible, meaning the dispute process is handled and resolved through an ADR agreement in which the parties choose the ADR method, agree on the degree of confidentiality in the process, outline the specific steps of the process, and establish time periods for each step. It is also non-judicial, meaning decision-making usually remains with the parties to the dispute rather than a third-party who has no stake in the outcome. Finally, it is controlled by the parties, meaning the parties maintain control of the process and the outcome.

When should you consider ADR?

It is better to use ADR early in a dispute. As time goes by, it may become harder to agree on a solution that satisfies everyone. Each side will become convinced they are “right” and the other side is “wrong.”

Since most court actions settle before trial, using ADR methods early can save both time and money involved in taking a dispute to court. Even if you're already in court or have begun the process of going to court, you can still use other ADR options. Many courts and tribunals have established dispute resolution programs that require participation in some form of ADR prior to going to trial.

When should you NOT consider ADR?

The issue of violence itself is not something that can be mediated. The courts may provide better protection for people who have been the victim of violence or threats of violence.

In addition, ADR is generally confidential and therefore are not appropriate if one of the parties wants the issue to be publicized or wants the outcome to be seen as an example for other similar disputes.

This column provides legal information only. If you need legal advice please contact a lawyer, community legal clinic or the Lawyer Referral Service at 1-900-565-4LRS (a $6.00 charge will apply). Fanshawe College students may book an appointment to attend our outreach clinic at the college. Please call us at 519-661-3352 with any inquires or to book an appointment.
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