Alan Cameron | Senior Associate

A guide to alternative dispute resolution

There is often some debate between litigators as to whether ADR is just another acronym or whether it can be a useful tool to resolve disputes more quickly and more cost effectively, without the need for anyone to swear the oath.

At Jackson Boyd, we pride ourselves on our expertise as litigators and while litigation can often be the best option for our clients, as commercially minded lawyers it is important for us to recognise if our clients’ interests can be better served by other means.

If you find yourself in the midst of a dispute but are concerned at the prospects of potentially having to go to court, we have created this brief guide to provide some information on the other options which may be available to you in resolving your dispute.

Mediation

What is mediation?

Mediation is a voluntary and confidential process where an independent mediator assists parties to identify the crux of the dispute between them and provide a flexible forum for finding a solution for both parties rather than a decision imposed upon them by a court.

When can mediation be used?

Mediation can be used for any type of dispute – large or small. Mediation is often successfully used in complex commercial dispute as it can often provide a practical and cost effective solution for all parties involved. Often even if matters are not resolved by a mediation, it can be a useful stepping stone before a court action for parties to narrow down the issues between them lessening the time which requires to be taken up at court.

What are the benefits of mediation?

Mediation can often achieve quicker resolutions for disputes, be more cost effective and provide a more controlled and practical solution to the dispute. Around 75% of mediations are successful. Due to its confidential nature, it can often save parties having to air confidential information in a public forum.

Arbitration

What is arbitration?

Arbitration decisions are often similar to judicial decisions although the benefit is that the arbitration process is confidential. It is usual to find clauses within commercial contracts or leases which require parties to pursue matters via arbitration before bringing their dispute before a court.

Arbitration involves an independent expert in the subject matter of the dispute being appointed by the parties.

When can arbitration be used?

Arbitration can be used where the parties wish the dispute to be kept confidential and where parties want to maintain a working relationship. Arbitration is also used in construction contracts for this reason.

What are the benefits of arbitration?

Like most forms of ADR, the intention is to ensure that disputes are resolved more efficiently and more cost effectively that other forms of dispute resolution. Arbitration is usually flexible and allows parties to instruct an impartial decision maker to consider the issues between them and reach a decision. Arbitrators will also usually have specialist knowledge regarding the particular issues in dispute.

Ombudsman Schemes

What is an Ombudsman?

An Ombudsman is an independent body, appointed to investigate complaints against companies or other organisations.  Many services have an Ombudsman scheme which can be used to consider disputes. The most recognisable Ombudsman is likely the Financial Ombudsman Service which covers most financial services organisations but there are also motor, energy and retail Ombudsman services.

When can an Ombudsman Scheme be used?

Generally, matters can only be referred to an Ombudsman after the relevant internal complaints procedure has been exhausted. In submitting a claim to an Ombudsman service, you will require to give written details of your complaint together with copies of supporting evidence. The Ombudsman will then make either a recommendation or a ruling which is usually accepted by the supplier.

You will only be able to refer the matter to the Ombudsman after you have completed the

What are the benefits of using an Ombudsman Scheme?

Depending on which Ombudsman scheme you use, the decision that’s made can be legally binding. Using an Ombudsman service does not prevent court action being raised if you are not satisfied with the decision but the court will often take an Ombudsman’s decision into account when considering a case.

Ombudsman services are also free so are a cost effective method of attempting to resolve disputes without the need for court action.

If you are involved in a dispute and are considering raising court proceedings, or using a form of dispute resolution, we are more than happy to assist you.

If you require any advice or assistance please contact us online by clicking here or speak to a member of our specialist team on 0333 222 1855.

Alan Cameron

Alan Cameron

Dispute Resolution Team

“My motto is: ‘First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, and then you win.’”

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