Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) often applies to situations where parties prefer not to go through the court process to resolve their matters for various reasons. Several methods of conflict resolution fall under this category, including mediation, negotiation, and arbitration. These methods present various advantages and disadvantages to the aggrieved parties.
One of the merits of ADR is that the methods applied are more cost-effective in saving time spent resolving the issues in question. In most cases, the methods are as few as a few hours, which is preferable in comparison to litigation processes that take longer due to a backlog of cases. For instance, negotiation, which often involves two parties exploring various alternatives to resolve their problems and culminating in a solution suitable for both parties, may take less than a day, depending on the issue of discussion and the relationship between the two parties.
Secondly, ADR methods provide parties with more privacy when dealing with their issues of contention than litigation, which occurs in open court. This aspect allows parties on both sides to discuss their issues freely without fear of judgment from members of society. For instance, in arbitration, the discussions during the arbitration process remain confidential to the benefit of the parties involved. Another advantage that ADR methods present to the relevant parties in a conflict is protecting relationships.
Usually, litigation takes an adversarial approach to conflict resolution in which one party wins while the other loses. Sometimes, such a system strains relationships, often to irreparable extents. Methods such as negotiation and mediation allow parties in a conflict to talk over their issues in a manner that they consider comfortable, thus resulting in high chances of maintaining amicable relations afterward. Lastly, in ADR, the choice of suitable recourse and generation of solutions lies mostly with the parties in conflict. Therefore, the parties are more likely to experience satisfaction with the outcome than in instances involving litigation.
The main disadvantage of ADR methods to parties in conflict is that most methods requiring third parties tend to be financially taxing. For instance, arbitrators receive payment based on time spent resolving a matter in most cases. Therefore, the longer the process takes, the more costly it is. Unlike in civil litigation, where a party may choose to represent themself, arbitration requires the parties to get a neutral person to conduct the process.
In addition, the decision made by an arbitrator is final, thus eliminating the option of alternative opinion through appeal. Another significant disadvantage is that third parties involved in the decision-making process have limited power regarding judgment. In the case of arbitration, an arbitrator can only deal with matters regarding money and cannot make decisions requiring a party to act or refrain from acting in a certain way. Overall, the benefits of applying ADR methods outweigh the limitations, thus making the methods more suitable for conflict resolution than litigation.