What is Alternative Dispute Resolution?

Commercial litigation is a broad area of law that involves resolving – and preventing – disputes between business entities or individual professionals. Litigation usually occurs when dispute resolution wasn’t achieved through prior negotiations and litigators are well prepared for managing a dispute through a court or tribunal process.

Disputes are common and can happen frequently but not all disputes end up in court. So what is Alternative Dispute Resolution?

Alternative Dispute Resolution is an umbrella term given to processes such as mediation, arbitration and expert determination. These processes are a good alternative to resolving legal issues without the need for litigation.

Here’s an overview of each of them (source: IP Australia);


This involves a neutral third party person (a mediator) whose job is to guide the parties to a mutually agreeable decision. Mediation is an attractive option for parties that:

  • Place a premium on the preservation or enhancement of their relationship,

  • Seek to maintain control over the dispute settlement process.

  • Value confidentiality, or

  • Want to reach a speedy settlement without damage to their reputations


This is a procedure in which a dispute is submitted, by agreement of the parties, to one or more arbitrators who make a binding decision on the dispute. In choosing arbitration, the parties opt for a private dispute resolution procedure instead of going to court.

Expert Determination

This is a consensual procedure in which the parties submit a specific matter (eg. A technical question) to one or more experts who make a determination on the matter.

Many States/Territories also have local Small Business Commissions that can assist with resolving business related disputes. And of course, sometimes disputes are able to be resolved between the two parties themselves without any other intervention.

As court action can be a long, drawn out process, finding a solution through ADR may be more efficient for both parties involved.

ADR typically takes place before heading to court but in some cases it can be court ordered.

Do you need assistance with dispute resolution? We’re experts at solving legal problems and can advise you on the best course of action. Send our team an email on hello@littonlegal.com.au