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Alternative Dispute Resolution
A tribunal is composed of three people. One will be legally qualified and the other two will have
experience in the area being considered by the tribunal.
Domestic tribunals are used by professional bodies to discipline or resolve disputes within the
profession, e.g. the Law society governs solicitors and has the power to suspend or disbar a
member for misconduct.
Administrative tribunals are set up by government to allow citizens to challenge powerful
organisations. Such tribunals include rent tribunals, social security tribunals, immigration appeal
tribunals, mental health tribunals and, most commonly, employment tribunals.
Employment tribunals deal with a range of disputes including unfair dismissal, discrimination and
maternity and redundancy disputes. Tribunals are informal compared to courts, and the strict rules
of evidence do not apply.
They are governed by the Tribunals and Enquires Act (1992) and supervised by the Queen's Bench
Division of the High Court. Tribunals are required to give reasons for their decisions. Tribunals vary in
their procedures, some are similar to a court trail. Not all tribunals have a route for appeal.
The parties agree to have their dispute solved by an independent arbitrator. The small claims
procedure is a form of arbitration used in the County Court where the judge decides the case in a
less formal way than in a court case.
Many businesses include an arbitration clause (Scott v Avery clause) in their contracts, which
requires both parties to use arbitration should a dispute arise. The organisation ACAS (Arbitration,
Conciliation and Advisory Service) uses this method to solve employment disputes and ABTA (the
Association of British Travel Agents) uses arbitration to deal with complaints made by
The arbitration Act (1996) states `the object of arbitration is to obtain the fair resolution of a
dispute by an impartial tribunal without unnecessary delay or expense.
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A mediator acts as an impartial go-between who does not make a decision for the parties but
attempts to find areas on which they agree. This form of alternative dispute resolution is only useful
if parties are willing to cooperate. The mediator may meet each party separately. Mediation is a
diplomatic rather than a judicial procedure; thus, the parties to the dispute are not bound to accept
the mediator's recommendation.
Resort to mediation has become increasingly frequent, both for internal and international disputes.…read more
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Advantages of Alternative dispute resolution:
Alternative dispute resolution is either free or much cheaper than the formal court procedure. Most
types of alternative dispute resolution do not require parties to pay for expensive legal
representation. Also, a qualified expert may assist in settling the dispute.
One of the main criticisms of the civil court procedure is the delay experienced when making a claim.
Alternative dispute resolution is a much faster way of solving disputes.…read more