Alternative Dispute Resolution

Alternative dispute resolution is an integral part of contentious matters, and the courts increasingly expect parties to try and settle disputes outside of court.

Chambers has strength and depth in the field of ADR. Our members include accredited arbitrators, adjudicators and mediators. Many more of our members represent parties in arbitration, early neutral evaluation, mediation, and adjudication.

We believe that ADR has many merits: it allows disputes to be settled more speedily; it avoids the costs and stress of protracted legal proceedings; it allows the parties to agree terms that are often far more flexible or beyond those available to the court. Just as importantly it allows the parties to see their position differently and may allow the parties to maintain or resurrect their commercial or personal relationships.

Arbitration

Arbitration clauses are routinely contained in commercial and property contracts and are governed by the Arbitration Act 1996. However, there is a growing trend for parties to agree to arbitration even though the contract does not expressly oblige them to.

Arbitration often proves an attractive proposition as it allows the parties to settle their dispute confidentially through an independent third party, which is often preferable to going to court.

We represent parties in arbitration proceedings in a variety of disputes including family law, construction disputes, contractual disputes and partnership disputes, and also act in relation to ancillary matters in the courts, such as the enforcement or stay of arbitration awards.

Early Neutral Evaluation

Issuing proceedings should always be seen as a step of last resort. Often parties are at odds as to the law or other material facts affecting their dispute. In an early neutral evaluation an independent third party with specialist knowledge is invited to give a non-binding indication of the strength of the parties’ respective positions before the point of issue. This often serves as a sense check and can allow more constructive negotiations to take place.

This process is becoming increasingly common and facilitates settlement at an early stage.

Our members are experts in their chosen fields and are able to undertake early neutral evaluation on discreet points or whole disputes where appropriate.

Mediation

Mediation is perhaps the most common form of ADR. A mediator is an independent party who attempts to find common ground between the parties in an effort to facilitate settlement. A mediator does not decide the case and the parties are free to walk away from the negotiations at any stage. However, a successful mediation allows parties to settle their dispute often on confidential and contractually binding terms. It offers greater flexibility than is available to the courts, and helps the parties to avoid the costs and stress of protracted litigation.

Chambers has strength and depth in this field, with our members including accredited mediators who have experience of both private and commercial disputes. Members are also frequently instructed to prepare position statements and other documents and attend mediations on their client’s behalf.

Our barristers act as mediators also represent parties at mediation.

Adjudication

Adjudication is used in many construction disputes and offers a relatively informal, expeditious and cost effective method of resolving disputes. The decision of an adjudicator is binding unless the same dispute is subsequently litigated or arbitrated. Decisions are quick; they are normally reached within 28 days of referral to the adjudicator. This quick process allows prompt resolutions to be obtained but also requires highly organised and skilful preparation as documents need to be produced, particularly by the Responding Party, at very short notice.

Our members include accredited adjudicators whilst are members frequently advise on and settle the requisite documentation in adjudication.