Dispute resolution, as the name suggests, is simply the process of resolving disputes between two parties. Also referred to as conflict resolution, there are different methods for its resolution. Disputes that are resolved and settled outside of court are referred to as alternative dispute resolution or ADR. Alternative dispute resolution is quite useful in the sense that it saves a lot of time and money for the conflicting parties. Alternative dispute resolution mechanisms can be used to resolve various kinds of disputes. These disputes could be family disputes, workplace disputes, business disputes, tenancy disputes, disputes with neighbours, personal injury disputes, consumer disputes, etc. Whatever the dispute may be, ADR can always come in handy.
Advantages of Alternative Dispute Resolution
Alternative dispute resolutions methods are generally very effective and many
litigation law firms in Delhi often recommend that conflicting parties should explore this option instead of approaching the courts straight away. Additionally, many courts stipulate that alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation and arbitration, should have been tried before the dispute resolution plea is brought before the court. Resolving and settling disputes outside of court is less tedious and cumbersome, and the conflicting parties can save a lot on time and money. The process is more flexible as well. Another advantage is that because of the inherent cooperative and collaborative features of the ADR, both parties may be better able to understand the other party’s concerns and might agree to certain concessions and compromises, and thus pave the way for quick and fair resolution, which otherwise would not have been possible for courts to legally impose upon.
Types of Alternative Dispute Resolution
There are many alternative dispute resolution methods each having its own advantages and disadvantages. Some are court directed while some others are opted for by the conflicting parties themselves. Though the presence of an attorney during an ADR proceeding is not mandatory, many parties anyhow want their attorneys to be present during the proceedings. Some ADR decisions are binding irrespective of whether the involved parties agree to the decision or not. Some others are non-binding and it is up to the parties involved to accept or reject the decision. Some important alternative dispute resolution methods are explained here. These ADR methods are endorsed by reputed litigation law firms in Delhi.
Arbitration, generally used in business disputes, is a process where the dispute is brought in front of a neutral or disinterested third party for resolution. The third party, known as the arbitrator, hears evidences and arguments from both sides and arrives at decision. It is pre agreed by the disputing parties whether they would accept the decision as binding or not. If binding, the decision is considered final and can be enforced by the court. The arbitrator acts as a facilitator and pronounces his/her decision based on evidences produced. The arbitration process is far less draining than a formal court trial.
Mediation is quite similar to arbitration, except that a mediator does not have the power or authority to pronounce a decision and force the concerned parties to agree. A mediator talks to the disputing parties and helps them arrive at a solution which is mutually agreed upon. The resolutions are not binding in most cases. Mediation process is not mandated by the courts, it’s voluntary. As such, accepting or rejecting the suggestions made by the mediator to arrive at a solution is the discretion of the involved parties. Strict confidentiality is maintained during the entire mediation process. As it is non-binding, the parties are free to pursue the case in court. However, dispute resolution law firms often advise their clients to evaluate ADR methods before going to court.
This ADR process is the combination of the mediation and arbitration methods. In this method, the neutral third party starts as mediator and tries to bring the two parties on the same plane and agree to solution. However, if mediation fails, he/she takes up the role of an arbitrator and pronounces a decision that is binding on both the parties.
A mini trial is more of a settlement process than a trial. Each party presents their case in a very concise manner. At the end, the parties try to make a settlement. If the attempt fails, a neutral advisor acting as a mediator declares a non-binding opinion on the most probable outcome if the case is headed for trial. Mini trial is a unique method in the sense that, contrary to what the name suggests, it often comes after formal litigation.
5.Summary Jury Trial (SJT):
An SJT is a mock trial, somewhat similar to a mini trial. The case here is presented before a mock jury which pronounces an advisory verdict. It is ordered by the court rather than being opted for by the parties themselves. After the verdict is pronounced, the court instructs the parties to attempt the settlement before going for a formal litigation.
This is the least preferred form of ADR as it seems too obvious. There is no neutral third party to assist the confronting parties in this process. The parties take upon themselves to come to a compromise and reach at a settlement through dialogue. The parties have the option to be represented by lawyers from dispute resolution firms.
Top lawyers in India strongly favour the above mentioned ADR methods as opposed to a formal trial in a court.