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What is Alternative Dispute Resolution?

As we all may know, a court dispute can be a long and daunting process. While it may be easy for any person to pursue a lawsuit against another once a dispute arises, however, one should note that this process can be avoided.  While the courtroom is known to be the home of justice, it is not the only avenue from which litigating parties may get resolved.

Alternative dispute resolution (ADR), refers to several methods of resolving legal disputes outside the courtroom. Civil courts in Uganda encourage the use of court settlements to litigate parties at any time before a judgment is awarded by the court. Once parties opt to arbitrate or settle disputes through ADR, the court may halt proceedings to enable parties to examine their options. 

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Peace can not be kept by force, it can only be achieved by understanding

Albert Einstein

There are ideally four methods of alternative dispute resolution. It should be noted that all these methods, though designed to achieve the same goal, are different. These methods are;

A) Negotiation
This is where parties meet to settle a dispute without a third party. Negotiations give parties to take the wheel and control the process coming to a resolution all on their own. It is quite informal, this leaves room for flexibility as litigating parties conclude.

B) Mediation
This form of ADR is controlled by a mediator. A mediator is an individual who has been trained to handle negotiations to help opposing parties work out a settlement that both parties can agree to. Mediation however leaves room for parties to also reject said agreement making this form of dispute resolution informal as well. 

C) Arbitration
Arbitration is formal negotiation and it is quite similar to a court proceeding with less dramatics. The arbitration proceedings are decided on by an arbitral panel or a single arbitrator depending on the agreement of the parties. Arbitration hearings take a few days, the panel will deliberate, after which issue a written binding decision called an arbitral award.

D) Conciliation
In this process, parties to a dispute use a conciliator whose aim is to meet each party separately and then together make an attempt to resolve their differences. Conciliation however has no legal standing, and the conciliator is under no obligation to write a decision or seek evidence in the matter.

 In such a hearing, parties are required to independently create a list of their desired outcomes from conciliation. The conciliator will then go back and forth encouraging each party to give their objectives one at a time. 

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With all these options, one might be curious to know why they should choose to settle their dispute through alternative dispute resolution. Here are a few reasons why this may be the best option for you;
i)  Parties have autonomy over their matters. ADR is private, this means that parties have the opportunity to control the outcome of their dispute coming to a conclusion that will leave both parties satisfied.

ii) It is cheap. While court proceedings can take years to come to an end, ADR doesn’t have that mishap. If parties are unable to agree they are allowed to pursue a resolution from a trial. ADR is cheaper, especially because it’s quicker.

iii) ADR proceedings are more private than a trial. When a court session is in progress, it is hard to limit the audience. ADR on the other hand emphasises the privacy of the parties and their discussions, resolutions are kept confidential. 

In Uganda, the Civil Procedure Rules under Order12, Rule 2 provides for Alternative Dispute Resolution, and the Judicature (Mediation) Rules of 2013 made mediation compulsory in all civil matters. 

I would advise every person to opt for ADR. I mean let’s leave Will Smithing people and deal with it all calmly. What say you?