Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) provides mechanisms that employers and employees can utilise to resolve disputes by avoiding court which is often costly and can be drawn out for long periods of time. ADR usually involve a third party such as an arbitrator or mediator whose job it is to assist the disputing parties in reaching a resolution.
Mediation is a private and confidential dispute resolution process in which an independent third party, the mediator, seeks to assist the parties in reaching a mutually acceptable settlement. It is a voluntary and non-binding process that only becomes binding on the parties if and when a settlement is reached.
The Mediation Act 2017 (the Act) came into force on 1st January 2018 and provides a statutory framework to promote the resolution of disputes through mediation as an alternative to court proceedings. The underlying objective of the Act is to promote mediation as a viable, effective and efficient alternative to court proceedings, thereby reducing legal costs, speeding up the resolution of disputes and reducing the disadvantages of court proceedings.
The Act has a number of key features including:
Arbitration is a means of dispute resolution whereby two disputing parties submit their dispute to a neutral third party for determination. Arbitration is often chosen by parties to commercial agreements as an alternative to litigation and is governed by the Arbitration Act 2010. Without the parties’ agreement to be bound by the decision however, there can be no arbitration.
ADR processes often result in high satisfaction from the parties and the savings realized by each ADR method are significant and can provide employers and employees in a dispute the opportunity to work through issues with the help of a neutral third party.