Development of Alternative Dispute Resolution

Whilst arbitration developed as result of the inability of the courts to satisfy some of the expectation of people in resolution of disputes. Alternative dispute resolution arose largely because the arbitral process was becoming unduly expensive and long because of the gradual creeping in of judicial technicalities of dispute resolution.


Thus there began a gradual shift of emphasis from the use of arbitration in commercial dispute resolution to a culture of systematic use of mediation and conciliation which are formalised forms of the age-long use of negotiation in the settlement of dispute. The settlement is consensual. The Conciliator or Mediator only helps the parties to reach a consensus, he does not adjudicate.

The gradual prominence of alternative dispute resolution is a result of the increasing dissatisfaction with the adversarial arbitration process, the negative dispute management in court litigation and later in arbitration which sees dispute only in terms of " right" and " wrong" and in which disputants are either " winners" or " losers" and the mounting costs of arbitration. All these go to enhance the status of alternative dispute resolution as a better option for resolving disputes of whatever nature.

With particular reference to commercial disputes apart from the fact that businessmen or women seek private resolution of their disputes instead of exposure to the machinery available in the glare of regular courts, there is the advantage that settlement through alternative dispute resolution avoids hostility which may arise in an adjudicator’s system.

It prevents either of the parties from losing face after the settlement exercise might be over. It breeds less antagonism and most importantly saves the business relationship of the parties and so business may continue in an atmosphere of cordiality as if nothing has happened. All these are possible largely because alternative dispute resolution provides greater room for compromise than the adjudicator’s systems of litigation and arbitration.

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