Alternative Dispute Resolution
It is certainly the case these days that the majority of disputes resolve before trial. A significant reason for this is the emergence and development of ADR. These are alternatives to the standard litigation process through the courts. We recognise the considerable advantages, both in terms of reaching a quick settlement and reducing costs, that can flow from the use of ADR at the optimum stage in a dispute. In fact we actively seek to make use of ADR as a strategic weapon.
ADR is most commonly associated with mediation, where the parties voluntarily agree to engage an independent third party mediator who aims to assist the parties involved in a dispute in reaching a settlement of the issues through a carefully managed process. It boasts high success rates, whether this be in compromising an action or in narrowing the issues. Our team has considerable experience in representing parties at mediation in all manner of disputes from shareholder and partner disputes, to inheritance provision claims and professional negligence actions. Indeed we boast an ADR accredited mediator in Partner Tim Jones.
In addition, we have experience of the following alternatives that can also be very effective settlement tools:
- arbitration - where an independent third party considers the arguments put forward by the parties and reaches a legally binding decision on the outcome of the dispute. This is a private process that can be less formal and more flexible than court proceedings.
- adjudication - this is similar to arbitration in that an independent third party expert determines the outcome of the dispute, although it may be less formal and there is greater opportunity to appeal a decision through the courts.
- early neutral evaluation - here an expert is invited at an early stage to hear each party's case and to give an opinion on the likely outcome of the dispute or about a particular point of law. The opinion is not legally binding but can encourage an unrealistic party to re-evaluate their position.
- expert determination - an independent expert is chosen by the parties who considers the claims by each party and then reaches a binding decision. This is often used to determine difficult technical issues in complex cases.
We pride ourselves in our use of all the options available to us in addressing any dispute and endeavouring to bring about a swift and cost-effective conclusion. Indeed, as the range of options increase, we remain open to new techniques and approaches and will use them to our clients' best advantage.