Things you should know about alternate dispute resolution


11/19/20213 min read


It is one thing to know the concept of Alternate dispute resolution; it is another to know the right methods to apply or seek in a particular dispute and to know the advantages of Alternate dispute resolution. What then are the methods that one may seek in ADR and what are the advantages of ADR?

The main methods of alternative dispute resolution methods available for settling disputes in Nigeria are Negotiation; Mediation; Conciliation and Arbitration.

Negotiation is a problem-solving process in which the parties to a dispute or an imminent conflict voluntarily come together either personally or by their representatives, to discuss their differences and attempt to reach a joint decision or resolution of the conflict, on their own and without the involvement of a third party. Negotiation is different from other types of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms as no third party is involved.

Mediation is an alternative dispute process in which a neutral and impartial third party called the mediator is invited by the disputing parties to facilitate the resolution of the dispute by the self-determined agreement of the disputants. The mediator facilitates communication, promotes understanding, focuses the parties on their interests, and uses creative problem-solving techniques to enable the parties to reach their own mutual settlement/agreement. The mediator is usually jointly procured by both parties and the process is voluntary as the parties are not under any obligation to accept the suggestions of the mediator.

Conciliation as an alternative dispute method involves a neutral third party who can give an opinion or suggestion. It is a system of ADR where a third party known as the conciliator uses his best endeavours to bring the disputing parties to a voluntary settlement of their dispute. Conciliation is regulated by the Arbitration and Conciliation Act (ACA) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (LFN) 2004.

Arbitration is the most initiated method of ADR where parties to a dispute submit to a third party called an arbitrator or arbitral tribunal for the resolution of their dispute. The decision of the arbitrator or arbitral panel called an award, is binding on the parties and enforceable by the courts. Arbitration is regulated by the Arbitration and Conciliation Act (ACA) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (LFN) 2004 and also regulated by the Lagos State Arbitration Law, 2009.

The use of ADR is advantageous to litigation in the sense that it is cheaper than litigation. ADR can be more expensive than litigation but in long term, it is cheaper than litigation. In ADR, all the expenses are borne by the parties while in litigation; some of the expenses are not borne by the parties.

It is faster as compared to litigation where there is a competition of so many litigants with different cases, but in ADR, the parties' case is likely to be the only one. ADR is less time-consuming unlike instituting a court action which can be time-consuming from factors such as adjournments, the unwillingness of parties, etc.

The courtroom where litigation is carried out is usually tense. For the lawyers, it is difficult, there are a lot of rules and procedures which must be followed, and also for the layman, it is extremely difficult. An ADR session is more of a business meeting where coffee can even be served. Hence the layman is likely to prefer such an environment.

The parties to the dispute can determine the Coram. This implies that they determine the mediator or arbitrator or conciliator who will preside over their case, but where they fail to agree, there are provisions of the law for such appointments to be done either by the court or an agency.

ADR processes are parties driven. Parties can determine the time, venue, and pace in the ADR process, unlike in litigation where parties are not involved. It is controlled by the court.

Preservation of the relationship between the parties- Most ADR has a win-win situation on both sides of parties to the dispute, as it preserves the pre-dispute relationship that existed between the parties before the dispute. ADR also helps preserve the privacy of the parties. In litigation, the process must be held in public except under certain conditions thus in private.



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