Impact of Alternative Dispute Resolution in the Judicial System

Alternative Dispute Resolution provides an alternative way of tackling legal disputes rather than going to courts. The common types of ADR are Conciliation, Arbitration, Mediation and adjudication. The Term ADR has a very broad meaning. In simple language, it can be parties negotiating a resolution outside the context of a courtroom. It is a sensible and cost-effective way to keep the parties away from litigation. ADR is a process came into existence to relieve court congestion and delay. It was believed that ADR would increase the efficiency of courts by conducting legal proceedings with less pressure and congestion and make the system more effective. It gave the parties a non-legal place where they can negotiate on issues which do not require formal legal proceedings. In this way, it comes out to be an effective tool which not only lowers the burden on the court but also make them more effective and increase public satisfaction. 

It was believed that ADR would change the nature of the judicial system but rather it did the opposite. It worked as another Pillar of the judicial system. No doubt it is a supportive player in today’s era for the court system but its significance is undoubtedly going to increase in coming years. The rising popularity of ADR can be explained by the growing case burden on courts and the belief that it imposes fewer costs than litigation.

In the legal world, the use of ADR is an attractive and influential tool which is today’s bandwagon. People are devoting more of their resources in this new concept and has been developing greater expertise in the field.  As ADR has become more prevalent and more widely used it has become a more integral part of our judicial system. Even in some cases, judges are interested and strongly in favour of getting into ADR and in use of mediation for dispute settlement. It’s an external conflict management system which is effective in settling the disputes amicably. There are 4 types of Alternative Dispute Resolution-

  1. Arbitration – This is a formal way in which an arbitrator is needed to resolve the dispute. An arbitrator is a nominated third party who is qualified to handle arbitration. This method is used where privacy is needed or terms are such that, technical knowledge is needed.
  2. Conciliation and Mediation- These are the methods which involve an independent mediator who is capable of settling the disputes between the parties.
  3. Adjudication- Adjudication simply means a legal process of resolving the dispute. It is more of a formal way of settling the dispute.

When ADR should be used?

ADR is a cost-effective way and it is a faster means of resolving disputes. It can be used in cases where there is no need for court proceedings. It is a very good tool where parties want to maintain a degree of privacy and don’t want their matter to go outside the boundaries. No one but the parties to the dispute and the mediators knows what happened.

ADR is nowadays a very good option for the businesses as it enables them to keep their matter confidential and help them maintain their reputation.

ADR and Family Law

Many families with conflicts seeking a legal settlement tend to stay out of court. It can be especially relevant if the children are involved. Family lawyers are also using ADR to help their clients resolve disputes, for that reason. Supreme court has also made it necessary for divorce cases to go for mediation if there is a scope of settlement between the parties. It is clear that Indian law emphasizes the preservation of marriage and makes it compulsory for the courts to try to reconcile and settle between the parties approaching courts for divorces.

According to the article in CBS News, most divorce cases are settled out of court. About five per cent of divorce cases do go to trial. (CBS News).  This shows how effective ADR is in settling the disputes outside. Also, this approach is always non-adversarial and both the parties have management over the outcome. 

Advantages of ADR

  • Parties can directly participate in the process
  • Lowers the burden on the courts
  • Make the court proceedings effective
  • Confidentiality
  • Faster means of settlement
  • Amicable settlement
  • Cost-effective as there is no need for a lawyer

ADR and courts

ADR has become a proven part of many tribunal systems. By using ADR, courts may give parties an alternate conflict settlement mechanism that will match the needs of the parties and contribute to the successful administration of justice. Court ADR systems work alongside the conventional flow of proceedings. Generally, courts have access to the ADR either for whole court sectors (e.g., family or housing) or for particular forms of court cases ( e.g. divorce or landlord-tenant cases). ADR may not be suitable for all the cases for example if the matter is of public importance, then court proceeding would be preferable, but ADR can be used in cases where there is no need of enforcements and court could direct to negotiate if the parties to the conflicts are capable.


The judicial system of resolving conflict is a very carefully orchestrated and designed system. By adding one more supplement in dispute resolving, the system has enhanced its power. ADR is relatively a new concept and is widely accepted. The outcome or the result is most acceptable and barely-there are conflicting on the decisions.

Courts should continue to invest in ADR programs, and understand that the positive impacts of ADR extend far beyond settlement.

(CBS News). Retrieved from ‘The Divorce Process’ – CBS › news › the-divorce-process

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Satyam Batra from Institute of law, Nirma University

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