Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) definition

An umbrella term that refers to processes designed to facilitate a resolution between two parties in dispute and prevent litigation. Because litigation is expensive in time and money, many courts now require the use of ADR before they’ll hear a claim.

ADR has many benefits over litigation, including lower costs, confidentiality, choice of third party to direct negotiations, preservations of reputations and flexibility of the procedure (which can be controlled and altered to suit the features of the case).

ADR schemes may be legally binding, which means you can’t raise an appeal in court if you disagree with the decision (but you can go to court to enforce an award). They also differ in that some are documents only, where everything is dealt with on paper, compared to those that are heard in person.

ADR is also known as external dispute resolution in some countries.


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