The traditional method of resolving a dispute, is to go to court. There has been a drive in recent years, particularly since the introduction of the Civil Procedure Rules, to find quicker and more flexible ways of resolving a dispute. ADR (alternative dispute resolution) or ODR (online dispute resolution) is just that. It literally means any method of resolving a dispute other than litigation through the courts.
Ideally disputes should be resolved through negotiation, with each party prepared to give a little to achieve a settlement. Sometimes it helps to employ a professional representative such as a surveyor or lawyer who is experienced in the subject matter of the dispute, and maybe more skilled at negotiating.
Some methods of dispute avoidance/resolution have been around for some time. Arbitration has traditionally been used in shipping cases and many commercial leases will also have an arbitration clause, particularly to resolve a commercial rent review dispute.
Another method of solving a dispute is for an independent expert to give a binding determination. An expert will be someone experienced in the subject matter of the dispute, who uses his or her own knowledge and experience to give a decision.
If negotiation fails to find a solution, you may want to consider using mediation. A mediator will not impose a settlement on the disputing parties but will help them come to an agreement which can then form a binding contract.
Although adjudication has been around for some time, it now refers to a very specific type of dispute resolution under construction contracts. The adjudicator gives a decision within 28 days of the dispute being referred to him or her.
There are other types of ADR. This summary is intended to give a brief explanation of some of the main types to help you negotiate your way round this rather confusing area.