Alternative Dispute Resolution -The Vision Of Tomorrow

by ranjan chandran and chitravathy balasingham

From Malayan Law Journal

Alternative dispute resolution or popularly known as ADR is a device aimed at resolving disputes between the parties in a manner so as to find a resolution expeditiously and economically.

The paramount object of ADR is to save time and cost and assists disputants in arriving at an amicable resolution to their disputes. This paramount object of ADR is vital as clients and disputants are finding litigation as an expensive and bruising experience.

A common mistake is to often associate the mode of resolution of ADR with arbitration, but in actual fact, ADR is yet an alternative means to resolve disputes besides the avenue of arbitration and the court of law.

There are distinct and apparent differences between ADR and arbitration. In an arbitration, an arbitrator who is a neutral party is involved in determining the: disputes between the parties before him. He listens to all parties concerned and gives his ruling as it were in the form of an award.

That award is then enforceable as against the party to whom it was given through the court of law. By contrast, the mechanism of ADR involves a voluntary submission by the parties of their disputes to a 'middle man' whose primary task is to get parties to meet and talk amongst themselves so as to come to an amicable resolution of the disputes between them. This neutral third party middle man does not make any determination on the disputes, and in consequences, there will be no decision by the middle man that would be binding upon the parties. This being so, the disputants retain their rights to refer the matter to arbitration or to resort to a court of law to get their disputes resolved. Perhaps this is the reason why ADR is said to serve as a pre-arbitration mechanism.

ADR has taken many forms in various jurisdictions all over the world.

Rent a judge system
In California, New York and other parts of the United States, the form and the mode of ADR that is prevalent is known as 'Rent a judge system' whereby the disputants agree to refer their disputes to a referee, who is often a retired judge, appointed by the court. The referee presides over an informal process and delivers a judgment that is enforceable through the court.

From: 1998 2MLJ IV