Being in a dispute with another party is not necessarily all about suing them through the courts. The courts often encourage parties to consider Alternative Methods of Dispute Resolution (or ADR) rather than issuing court proceedings as a way of resolving disputes without the need for the courts to be involved.

Parties can also be encouraged to consider methods of settling disputes even whilst court proceedings are going on in the background, so mediation, round table meetings and other methods of settling cases do not necessarily need to be considered as an alternative to litigation, although to do so will undoubtedly save both time and expense.

ADR generally include the following:

Round table discussions

The parties, either with or without solicitor support, meet to discuss the issues. The discussions are without prejudice which means that anything said cannot be used in any current or subsequent court case so concessions may be made to try and resolve any dispute. Proceedings are often very informal and often occur before any formal litigation proceedings have taken place.


This is a more formal process where a third party mediator is appointed to assist the parties in reaching their own settlement. Unlike a judge, a mediator cannot impose any decision upon the parties but can assist, through a series of private sessions and joint sessions with all parties present, in the parties reaching a mutually acceptable resolution. Mediation often occurs once litigation has been started to try and stem the costs, time and stress often associated with litigation, but can stand alone without any litigation having been commenced. Mediation is often very successful in resolving a dispute, if not on the day, then within the following days and weeks.


This is a method of resolving construction industry disputes quickly. The whole process lasts just 28 days and is there to help the cash flow during a construction project. Please see our construction disputes page for more information on this method of ADR.


Based on an agreement by the parties to have a dispute settled in this way, arbitration results in a decision that is binding on all parties. There is no right to revert to the court if you are not happy with the result and, generally speaking, the result is imposed rather than the parties having an opportunity to ‘meet in the middle’. This is more final than the other methods of ADR which generally require a settlement agreement being completed by the parties to record any resolution reached.

Expert determination

Similarly to arbitration, this also results in a binding decision and where the dispute hinges on a more technical point, expert determination of the dispute is often a useful tool to bring a swift resolution. The expert is appointed, generally by agreement between the parties, and reviews the information and gives their finding which the parties agree to abide by. The costs associated with expert determination and usually a lot less than litigating over a matter.

We have solicitors at all levels with experience and expertise in ADR who can guide you through the processes which often result in a cheaper and quicker option than court proceedings. Unfortunately, they are not always appropriate, but our experts will look at your case and decide on its merits whether any method of ADR will be appropriate in your circumstances.

If you would like more information or advice on alternative methods of dispute resolution, please speak to a member of our team today.