Knowledge & Resources

Understanding Alternative Dispute Resolution 


ADR is an umbrella term for processes, other than judicial determination, in which an impartial person assists those in a dispute to resolve the issues between them.

ADR is commonly used as an abbreviation for alternative dispute resolution, but can also be used to mean ‘assisted’ or ‘appropriate’ dispute resolution. Some also use the term ADR to refer to techniques for the prevention or management of their own disputes.

There are many different forms of ADR:

  • In facilitative processes an ADR practitioner assists the parties to a dispute to identify the disputed issues, develop options, consider alternatives and endeavour to reach an agreement on specific issues or the whole dispute. Examples of facilitative processes are mediation, facilitation and facilitated negotiation.
  • In advisory processes an ADR practitioner considers and appraises the dispute and provides advice on facts of the dispute, the law or possible or desirable outcomes and how these may be achieved. Advisory processes include expert appraisal, case appraisal, case presentation, mini-trial and early neutral evaluation.
  • In determinative processes an ADR practitioner evaluates the dispute (which may include the hearing of formal evidence from the parties) and makes a decision on the dispute. Examples of determinative ADR processes are arbitration, expert determination and private judging.

Examples of ADR in Australia

  • Employment – workplace grievance, industrial relations, discrimination, harassment
  • Commercial – contract, insurance, construction, franchise, personal injury
  • Statutory – AIRC, CTTT, ADB, WCC, Dust Diseases
  • Tribunal, Strata Titles, Family Relationship Centres
  • Court annexed mediation
  • Family – relationships, parenting, residence, property
  • Wills and Estates
  • Local Government/ Environmental- Development Applications, Heritage sites, waste dumps, land use
  • Industry based Dispute Resolution schemes, eg Ombudsman – Financial Services, Energy, Telecommunications, Mortgage, Cinema, Retail Grocery, Franchise
  • Neighbourhood Community

For further details on specific ADR process read more here.