Law Summary Unit 1 ADR

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Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is an alternative to civil court action. A civil case is a dispute between two individuals. We have court alternatives for a few reasons - 


  • Using courts may be money and time consuming 
  • Using courts can be traumatic for the individuals involved and may not lead to the most satisfactory outcome for the case
  • Proceedings are open to the press and public - there is nothing to stop the details of the case being published in the news


  • Alternative methods for resolving disputes have been developed which are often less costly and speedier than the courts as well as being less procedural.
  • It’s not surprising that more and more people - especially businesses - look to resolve disputes outside of court. 

- ADR attempts to involve the clients in the process of resolving a dispute. 

- The focus is upon reaching an agreement rather than the adversarial approach. 

- Each case is decided on its own facts without regards to other cases. 

  • Common ground between parties can be emphasised rather than the points of disagreement
  • It’s a confidential process and can range from a very informal negotiation to a formal arbitration.
  • The resolution of a dispute can be fast and straight forward.




Tribunals aren’t alternative dispute resolution - they are used rather than going to court.


Since the 1940s there has been a growth in legislation affecting individuals in their private lives, e.g employment rights, social security benefits, housing, education, immigration and mental health. These new laws inevitably resulted in many disputes and a system had to be constructed to allow these disputes to be resolved as the courts could not cope with the amount of disputes. In 1957 the Franks Committee on Tribunals recommended that they should be based on independence, openness and accessibility. The Tribunal Service was set up in April 2006 to oversee tribunals. Tribunals were created to allow public access to fast and inexpensive ways of resolving disputes which may otherwise have clogged up the civil justice system. 


There are many types of tribunals but they can be catagorised into two types - administrative and domestic. 

Administrative tribunals deal with disputes between individuals and the State, e.g the Social Security Tribunal, the Immigration Tribunal, the Mental Health Review Tribunal, Rent Tribunal and Employment Tribunals. 

Domestic tribunals are ‘in-house’ tribunals often set up by professional bodies, e.g the Football Association, the Bar Council and the General Medical Council.


Most tribunals consist of 3 members, a legally trained chairperson and two lay members who have expertise in the matter under dispute. Some tribunals will have a chairperson who has expertise in the matter under dispute rather than a legal qualification. Generally parties are encouraged to represent themselves rather than using lawyers. All parties and witnesses will attend.


Parties and their witnesses give evidence and all will be available for questioning. There


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