Alternative Dispute Resolution

Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is a term used to describe a variety of methods for resolving disputes other than litigation.
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Taking a dispute to court is usually the last resort as it can drain on your resources and be extremely disruptive to your business. Litigation is not the only way to resolve dispute. Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is becoming an increasingly popular way to resolve disputes, often preferred to litigation because of its speed, flexibility and ability to deliver cost effective and confidential results which can sometimes preserve valuable business relationships.

ADR is the collective name for methods of resolving disagreements that don’t use a formal court process. Instead, they create a structured environment in which opposing parties and their legal representation can reach a settlement. Some involves third parties such as mediation, adjudication and arbitration whereas others, for example negotiation, do not. Some forms of ADR may be binding, such as expert determination, whilst conciliation and early neutral evaluation are not. SA Law is experienced in all forms of dispute resolution, and this quick-guide to the most common methods will help you to understand what is available.


A confidential negotiation in the presence of an impartial mediator who helps the opposing parties resolve the dispute. A meeting is attended by the parties, their lawyers and the mediator. The mediator’s job is to facilitate a negotiated settlement. The parties retain control over whether the case settles and if so the terms that are reached.

Early neutral evaluation

An impartial person is asked to provide a non-binding opinion based on their assessment of the dispute. This has the benefit of highlighting issues that parties may not have considered.

Expert determination

An expert in the relevant field is asked to provide a decision based on a detailed assessment of the dispute. Subject to certain conditions, the parties are contractually bound to accept this decision.


This is a process in which written submissions are made to an adjudicator, who makes a temporarily binding decision that is enforceable in court. Adjudication decisions can be challenged in court but only a court order can overturn an adjudicator’s decision.


This is very much like court proceedings in many ways, but can be quicker and less expensive. An independent arbitrator reviews the evidence and documentation, and makes a binding decision that is enforceable in court.

How we help you

  • In some cases, litigation may be the only route, but you can rest assured that we take a stringent approach to managing costs, and have an exceptional track record of winning success for clients.
  • An incorrect choice of dispute resolution method can easily hamper your prospects of a quick resolution and run up wasted costs. Call us for a confidential discussion about your situation, and we can give you an early indication of the most appropriate options to resolve your dispute swiftly, cost-effectively and with the minimum disruption to your business.

It’s good to bear in mind...

  • You may be contractually bound to use a form of ADR. Check the dispute resolution sections of any contracts that you have entered into,
  • Mediation can be extremely helpful as it allows parties to talk to each other face-to-face. This provides the opportunity to discuss a much wider range of issues that may be relevant to the dispute. Often a solution can be reached that secures the existing business relationship. There can be serious costs consequences of unreasonably refusing to mediate and therefore an invitation to mediation should always be seriously considered.
  • Evidence is just as essential to alternative methods of dispute resolution as it is to court litigation. Make sure you keep good records, and gather evidence to support any points you wish to make. The strength of the evidence can have a huge impact on whether a settlement can be achieved. 

Contact Us

At SA Law our team of experienced litigation solicitors can advise you on which method of ADR is best for you, taking into account your business objective and the type of dispute. To discuss how ADR could help you to resolve a business dispute call Robert Ryall or Tracy Lacey-Smith on 01727 798092 .

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It costs nothing to make an enquiry and it is entirely confidential. See our privacy notice to find out how we use and protect your data.

If you would like to contact a specific member of the SA Law team, you can view all team profiles here.