FAQs on ADR practitioners


What is ADR?

ADR means Alternative Dispute Resolution. This term describes negotiatory methods that provide a voluntary alternative to the established practice of settling civil disputes in court. The best-known forms of ADR are arbitration, conciliation and mediation. If an individual appoints a solicitor to act for them, they can deal with some ADR practitioners for their client. As regards mediation, the parties must participate in the process themselves but they will be well-advised to take legal advice throughout the mediation process, in order to protect their best interests.

What is an arbitration practitioner?

An arbitrator is an independent, impartial third party who hears both sides in a dispute and makes the decision that resolves it. In most cases the arbitrator's decision is legally binding on both sides, so it is not possible to go to court if one of the parties disagrees with the decision. In employment disputes, the arbitrator is appointed by ACAS from its panel of independent arbitrators.

What is a conciliation practitioner?

Conciliation involves an impartial third party helping the people in dispute to resolve their problem in private. In most cases, the parties are free to agree to the resolution or not, however, this is not the case with the conciliation service provided by the government-funded ACAS. In consumer disputes conciliation is the first stage in an arbitration process, and the conciliator is usually a member of the trade association.

What is a mediation practitioner?

Mediation also involves a trained and independent third party, who helps parties to resolve their dispute. The parties decide the terms of the agreement while the mediator is there to facilitate agreement, rather than make the decisions. The settlement produced will need to be ratified by the court to make it legally-binding. Mediation can be used in commercial, personal injury and clinical negligence cases, as well as family law matters. Mediators are not allowed to give legal advice, although they can give information about the law to clients.

What is an Ombudsman?

Ombudsmen investigate and resolve complaints about public and private organisations, and encourage good practice in the way such organisations handle complaints. The majority of ombudsman schemes are set up by statute. However, others are voluntary schemes set up by the service sectors concerned. Ombudsmen do not give legal advice, therefore, it is advisable for a complainant to contact a solicitor before making their complaint.

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