Alternative Dispute Resolution
How are legal disputes usually settled?
In the normal course of things, legal disputes usually require a case to be filed in a recognised court of law. After this, there are hearings and a judge gives out a decision.
What is Alternative Dispute Resolution or ADR?
lternative Dispute resolution is an out-of-court settlement which takes place in the pre-litigation phase. Usually, but not always, an impartial third party facilitates the resolution.
Can all cases be decided upon by ADR?
All cases except the following can be resolved through ADR-
- Criminal offences
- Cases involving public interest or interest of people not included in the parties before the court
- Grave allegations of fraud, fabrication and forgery, impersonation, coercion under IPC
- Election disputes
- Special cases eg- the ones involving claims against minors, deities, the mentally challenged, the government, etc
When to choose ADR over a normal court case?
Firstly, to see if your dispute is eligible to be resolved via the ADR mechanism, you can visit thiswebsite. ADR is speedier, more private and gives the parties more control than a normal court case. However, in a few cases the decisions are binding and cannot be challenged.
What are the different types of ADR?
In India, there are various types of ADR including arbitration; conciliation; mediation; negotiation; Lok Adalats or People’s Courts.
- Arbitration- This is when the dispute is handled by an arbitral tribunal and a decision (arbitration award) which is mostly binding is given out.
- Conciliation- This is when an impartial third party, aka the conciliator, is involved in assisting the parties reach a mutually satisfactory settlement. If both the parties accept the settlement, the decision becomes final and binding.
- Mediation- This works in a similar way to conciliation with the impartial third party here being referred to as the Mediator. The difference is that, unlike the conciliator, the mediator only facilitates inter-party communication.
- Negotiation- This is the most common type of ADR and is when resolution discussions happen without third-party involvement.
- Lok Adalats- This is when the settlement is foreseen by a judicial officer and there isn’t too much emphasis on the legal technicalities. The decision is called the Lok Adalat Award.
What purpose does ADR serve?
ADR is a relatively faster form of grievance redressal and is an especially handy tool in a state like India with a heavy judicial load.
Can the decision/ award be challenged?
If either of the parties is unsatisfied with the given decision or award then in most cases, the party can enter the litigation phase and take their case to court. However, in the case of arbitration, the course of action will differ on the basis of whether the award was binding or not.
What are some of the advantages of ADR?
- ADR is very effective in dealing with the pending caseloads
- It is a speedier form of redressal thus, is time effective It is also a cost-effective option
- Since it’s not a courtroom, people can feel at ease and disclose information more freely
- The proceedings are confidential and private
- It is more personal in the sense that it can lead to the resolution of inter-personal differences
- More scope for more satisfactory dispute resolution since the parties get to negotiate more vigorously
- Less legal intricacies are involved thus, the proceedings are better understood by all the sides
- There is a greater satisfaction with the outcomes since the parties are more in control
What are some of the disadvantages of ADR?
- It cannot be used for all types of cases
- It can be used as a stalling tactic
- There might not always be a resolution thus, ending up in a waste of resources
- With respect to binding decisions, the reappeal process might be cumbersome and may counterbalance the positives of ADR
- Due to the nature of the cases, authoritative injunctive orders may not be possible
How can a person use the ADR mechanism to resolve their dispute?
To apply for legal aid or to see if one is eligible, an application can be filled and tracked here.
How successful has ADR been in India?
India’s Lok Adalats have been mostly successful in resolving disputes effectively. In addition, legal aid societies in different law schools and colleges in India are conducting Lok Adalats especially in rural India which needs it the most. However, there still seems to be a lack of awareness about ADR mechanisms and a general hitch in taking upon this recourse to resolve disputes. Spreading awareness and initiating discourse is the need of the hour.