Samuel Okoronkwo

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Alternative Dispute Resolution: Which path should you take?

Dispute avoidance is a hot topic right now, however, this does not mean that it is wise to forgo the importance of understanding effective dispute resolution. While disputes may be unavoidable at times, going to court can be avoided with ADR. Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) offers alternative routes to dispute resolution that do not involve the courtroom.

ADR solutions are favourable from a cost and time perspective, as well as preferable to preserve any professional or personal relationships. Each method of ADR has its own merits and it’s important to understand these merits so you can choose the best path for you.


The Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996 introduced the concept of mandatory resolution of disputes by adjudication. In layman’s terms, this means that parties involved in the contract have the right to refer a dispute to adjudication at any time during the contract.

Adjudication barristers can advise on these matters from determining if there is a dispute to enforcing an adjudicator’s decision. For this reason, adjudication is a quicker, less formal and more cost-effective alternative to traditional commercial litigation.


Arbitration is the fair resolution of disputes wherein parties involved in the dispute mutually agree to a single arbitrator or a panel to hear submissions and make a binding decision. Arbitration is usually pre-agreed in terms of a contract so all parties know where they stand if a dispute arises.

Due to the administrative backlog in domestic courts, arbitration is an increasingly sought-after method of ADR, usually for those who want to resolve high-value disputes privately and cost-effectively.

Early Neutral Evaluation

Early Neutral Evaluation aims for both parties to understand the ‘lay of the land’ by presenting the merits of each side’s case. An independent expert will be brought in to offer their opinion and allow parties to consider whether it is wise to avoid wasted time and money through settling by other means.

Early Neutral Evaluation is a non-binding process which means that the evaluation can be rejected and the parties can choose to pursue other dispute resolution methods, including traditional.


Mediation is another solution that involves a third party helping the parties of the dispute agree to settle their differences and compromise without going to court. The process is more collaborative and is often favoured when it comes to family matters.

If parties cannot come to an agreement, the dispute will remain unsettled and parties retain the right to pursue traditional dispute resolution.

Which ADR path should you take?

Understanding the factors of your specific dispute and the merits of each method of resolution is key to avoiding wasted time and money by choosing the least effective decision for you. However, should one method of ADR prove ineffective, others can still be pursued.

Mercantile Barristers are experts in the dispute resolution process, including all of the methods listed above. We can help you determine the most appropriate method for your dispute and guide you through whichever process is most fitting.

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