An Analysis of English Law in Referring Disputants to Consensual ADR Methods
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is increasingly successful in settling civil disputes outside court. ADR is often cost-effective and quicker than litigation, but it remains underused in England and Wales. This is a significant issue as litigation becomes increasingly expensive and funding options are limited. More importantly, the majority of the cases that come to court are of small value, and in many of these cases, individuals (especially Litigants in Person) are not well informed about the alternative dispute resolution options and those who use them usually have higher satisfaction. This thesis thus analyses English laws that are in place to refer disputants to consensual ADR. In doing so, it seeks to identify the reasons behind the low uptake and looks for ways to promote ADR in suitable cases. While encouragement to ADR through education and facilitation is the most favoured policy option in England and Wales to promote ADR, the option to use compulsion to undertake ADR is the most debated option, but there is strong resistance among the judiciary and the policymakers. Nonetheless, both the judiciary and policymakers speak favourably about ADR, and some measures have been introduced, notably mandatory family Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM), employees’ mandatory notification to ACAS, mandatory sectoral Consumer ADR schemes and the new Online Civil Money Claim are the significant ones. There is not enough in-depth analysis of these measures to show how far these initiatives have been successful in increasing the uptake of ADR. Therefore, this study seeks to fill this gap by carrying out an analysis of these measures and comparing them when appropriate to identify best practices and makes recommendations for reform. Importantly, this study critically examines how ADR is being embedded into the English civil justice system and argues for a balanced relationship between litigation and ADR because they complement each other.