What is alternate dispute resolution?

Alternate Dispute Resolution means trying to sort out a problem without having to go to court

Going to court costs a small fortune. This is great for us, because we’re lawyers. We make more money when we go to court. It’s not best for you though.

The best thing is for you is to try to resolve your dispute without having to go to court. Nowadays, to run any matter in the Supreme Court can easily cost over $100,000. Even if you’re successful, a large proportion of that $100,000 won’t be recoverable from the unsuccessful party.

There’s a difference between what a lawyer will charge you and what you will recover from the other side. This is because, there’s a gap. That gap can be many tens of thousands of dollars and sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Lawyers for a long time have recognised that this is unfair. One way of avoiding this, is to go through what is known as the alternate dispute resolution process.

Alternate dispute resolution seems to be a bit of a buzz word nowadays.

There are several well recognised and defined alternate dispute resolution processes that can be undertaken. These are listed below:

1. Mediation

Mediation is one of the most successful of all of the processes. A mediator is usually a highly trained lawyer.

Lawyers try to get the parties together in a room and solve either the whole dispute or at least even part of the dispute. Resolving, even parts of the dispute can dramatically reduce court costs. Of course if the whole dispute is resolved then people save the sort of money we have outlined above.

Typically what happens at a mediation is the mediator gets the parties in the room and tries to outline what the argument is all about.

The lawyers then usually put the position of their respective clients forward. If the client wants to speak, they can.

Typically, the parties go into separate rooms and the mediator goes between the parties to try to negotiate step-by-step a resolution of the problem.

This usually involves breaking the problem down into various components  and trying to reach agreement in relation to the components and then work towards an overall resolution of the matter. Some mediators have an extremely high success rate.

We usually like to use mediators that have a high success rate. Many of them resolve in excess of 90% matters brought before them.

In essence, this means that if you engage in alternate dispute resolution, you can save huge amounts of money and still walk away with a successful outcome.

It is not uncommon that the amount of money in dispute between the parties can be significantly less than what they incur by way of legal costs. Can you imagine the stupidity of having an argument about $100,000 with the legal bill being $200,000 or $300,000?

Hopefully you can now see the good sense in going through a mediation which should cost considerably less than $100,000.

Other forms of alternate dispute resolution are:

2. Arbitration

The arbitrator will hold a form of hearing. Arbitration is far less formal than a court hearing and he will make a ruling. It may be confidential between the parties. It is however significantly cheaper than actually going to court.

“I can imagine no society which does not embody some method of arbitration” – Herbert Read

3. Early Neutral Evaluation

 This process should be utilised very early on the piece. Evidence will be given to the evaluator and he will consider that evidence and what parties have to say. He will then give an opinion as to what he thinks is likely to be the outcome of the case and make some assessment of the merits of both side’s arguments. The parties can agree for it to be binding or non-binding.

4. Conciliation

 This process is not dissimilar to mediation but the conciliator goes between the parties and tries to identify options, alternatives, the issues in dispute and tries to work towards reaching an agreement. There other forms of alternatives, the issues in dispute and tries to work towards reaching an agreement.

There are other forms of alternate dispute resolution such as adjudication and simple negotiation between the parties.

We strongly urge you to contact us. Our Canberra law firm has been involved in the alternate dispute resolution process for over 30 years. We have literally conducted thousands of them .

Wherever possible, we will try to save you money by going through the alternate dispute resolution process rather than going to court.

For our legal support services Contact us at (02) 6295 2283

or visit us at

54-56 Townsville St, Fyshwick ACT 2609

Leave a Reply