The Civil Justice Committee had a working group report late last year with 29 recommendations for increasing the use of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) in the justice system. It also asked 43 questions focusing on possible concerns. The next stage will presumably be proposals for changes that secure wider use, unless there is more consultation.

The starting point is that the group considers the use of ADR to be patchy and that it has not seized the hearts and minds of parties with disputes in a way that makes it a normalised part of dispute culture. Indeed, it is seen as mysterious and is not understood in commercial litigation generally (outside some specialist areas), although it is widely used in family law and employment disputes, not to mention the proliferation of Ombudsman schemes in particular industries.

The group takes its starting point that most people who know about it see it as a good thing, but that something must be done to secure it being used much more often. This means that changes with implications for any business will be in the offing; whether the business is involved in a lot of smaller disputes or faces occasional large ones. Although it is not really expressed in the report, the key point about increased use of ADR is that it saves money, both in paying lawyers, and because key business participants are not distracted from the roles that the business needs them to perform.

Apr-Jun 2018 issue

Cubism Law