Alternative Dispute Resolution: Pros and Cons

Everyone faces many conflicts and disputes throughout their lives, and sometimes these disputes escalate. Depending on the situation, some conflicts lead to court appearances, and some can lead to violence. Since the 1980’s there as been a move toward alternative dispute resolution (ADR), which can act as a preventative measure against conflicts turning into court battles and violent displays. As ADR gains ground and becomes more popular, it is important to learn more about its uses, as well as its pros and cons.

What is alternative dispute resolution?

Alternative dispute resolution is a means of settling disputes outside of court. The most common forms of ADR are mediation, arbitration, and negotiation. It can be used in a variety of cases including but not limited to the following: family, insurance, business, international trade, and employment.


No litigation: ADR is a great alternative to lengthy court appearances. Mediators, arbitrators, and negotiators who conduct alternative dispute resolution sessions are trained professionals who are skilled in settling conflicts to the satisfaction of both parties.

Cost effective: Alternative conflict resolution is much more cost effective than paying thousands of dollars in court costs and attorney’s fees. Costs for mediators, arbitrators, negotiators, etc. are usually paid on an hourly basis and divided between the parties involved. In some cases their are even community-based or government-sponsored forms of ADR that are free.

Speedy process: Saying that ADR is a speedy process is not to suggest that disputes are going to be resolved in an hour, but using methods of alternative dispute resolution are much more time efficient than the current legal system. Courts are weighed down with frivolous lawsuits, staff is overworked, and budgets are low.

Privacy: Unlike cases heard in courtrooms, the decisions reached and awards given during forms of ADR are kept private, and aren’t considered public record.


Inconsistent standards: Unlike the laws that regulate the conduct of courtrooms, ADR providers are not governed by consistent or universal standards. Therefore, it may be more difficult to find a well-qualified or seasoned ADR professional.

Lack of emergency rulings: Courts can provide emergency rulings to prevent an exchange of custody, or prevent someone from being evicted, but ADR cannot provide such rulings. If such an immediate decision is necessary the parties involved may end up seeking the services of the court.

No precedent: Rulings made using ADR cannot be used as legal precedents for others to rely on. Decisions reached during mediation, negotiation, and arbitration are private and confidential, so if the ability to set a precedent is desired then, the parties should use the traditional court system.

Imbalance of power: In cases involving family members, or a corporation and an employee, an imbalance of power could exist when ADR methods are used. One party could have more money and resources available to them and put the other party at a disadvantage.

Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is quickly becoming a popular option for many individuals who are seeking to resolve conflicts outside of the court system. If you are interested in finding out more information about ADR you can visit the following sites:

ADR Resources
ADR World


Related Posts