Oftentimes, it is in the interests of all parties to resolve disputes outside the Court system, as it is costly and generally quite slow when compared with litigation.  Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is a term for processes to resolve disputes outside of the Court system, such as mediation and arbitration.

The ADR process is managed by trained professionals (Arbitrators and Mediators) who have legal qualifications and usually have a background in litigation.

The ADR process can come into effect in two predominant ways.

Commercial Contracts

In recent years it has become increasingly common for alternative dispute resolutions clauses within contracts.  These ADR clauses can also require negotiations to be made in good faith, before mediation and/or arbitration to be undertaken to resolve the dispute before Court proceedings may commence.

The aim of such contractual clauses is to not only resolve disputes in an equitable manner, but to also do it in a relatively cost effective way.

Orders of the Court

If a party has commenced litigation through the Courts in Queensland, the Court can order the parties to a proceeding to undertake the ADR process pursuant to the Magistrates Court Act, the District Court Act and the Supreme Court Act.

Those powers are also contained in the Uniform Civil Procedure Rules (UCPR) for the Court to order the parties take part in mediation or undertake a case appraisal process.