The courts of England and Wales actively encourage alternative dispute resolutions.
There are a number of ADR mechanisms available to parties. Below is a brief outline of some of them.
Negotiation is the most flexible and informal way to resolve a dispute. It is also private. Parties who are willing to consider resolving their disputes at an early stage can make considerable savings on legal costs and management times.
As discussions are usually done on the basis of a ‘without prejudice’ basis if negotiations are unsuccessful the parties’ rights are not prejudiced.
However, unless the parties agree any chair does not make a binding determination.
This is a more formal procedure than negotiations where the assistance of an independent third party is used to identify the issues and explore options for resolution. Again it is voluntary, non binding and private. However once agreement is reached a written agreement is binding.
In this a representative from each party makes a formal presentation to a panel consisting of senior executives from the parties plus an independent chair. The panel retires and determines the outcome, although unless the parties request it, the chair does not usually make a binding determination. Again the process is private, confidential and without prejudice.
Early Neutral Evaluations
This is when the parties put their dispute to an independent evaluer who will give an opinion on the dispute which can then be used to formulate an agreed settlement.