One of the key aims of the Woolf reforms and the 1999 Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) was to increase the use of alternative dispute resolution (ADR). The intention was to reduce the time and expense involved in resolving disputes. This is particularly advantageous for commercial disagreements where lengthy litigation can be crippling to businesses.

A recent survey has found that the increased use of ADR prompted by the introduction of the CPR has been successful, securing settlements without the need for protracted court proceedings.

HFW Litigation’s English Civil Procedure Survey, ‘The Civil Procedure Rules, 20 Years On’ asked in-house counsel, private practice lawyers, and barristers for their feedback on the CPR since the introduction of the CPR 20 years ago.

ADR success in securing early settlement

Over 60 per cent of survey respondents said that in their experience mediation resulted in settlement. Only 11 per cent had not tried mediation, with 20 per cent believing it was not an effective settlement strategy.

Just under two-thirds of the lawyers in private practice who took part in the survey thought that ADR achieved settlement. Of the in-house counsel who responded, however, only approximately one-quarter believed that ADR would have a successful outcome.

The survey noted that this was the biggest disparity between in-house and private practice lawyers out of all the questions asked, which included areas such as case management, costs, expert and witness evidence and disclosure.

Additional feedback provided by the respondents suggested that they found mediation to be most effective once some initial costs have been incurred by the parties in disagreement. Once expenses are incurred and initial documentation has been drawn up, it is easier for those involved to see the full picture and assess the potential cost liability they may be facing.

It was also acknowledged that mediation settlement agreements do not usually need separate enforcement proceedings, as once the parties have agreed on an outcome, they are more invested in achieving it.

The advantages of ADR

ADR has many advantages over litigation. As well as being quicker, preparation for ADR usually incurs lower fees as lawyers have less documentation to prepare and no court fees. With litigation, there is also the risk that the losing side will be ordered to pay the other side’s costs as well as their own.

One of the main advantages to a business is the chance to preserve and mend a commercial relationship. ADR can not only resolve a dispute but will attempt to restore the parties’ good faith in each other to allow them to continue trading together where this is desirable.

With legal reforms looking to encourage potential litigants to take up the chance of ADR, courts may take into consideration the parties’ willingness to mediate when considering costs and other matters.

The future for ADR

To build on the success of ADR to date, more companies need to take up the opportunity to resolve a dispute quickly and resume business with minimum delay and disruption. As well as increasing awareness, it is important that the ADR available is of good quality and carried out by qualified, experienced professionals to maintain confidence in the system.

At Lux Mediation, we offer a range of different dispute resolution services, designed to deal with all types and stages of disagreement. Our mediators have extensive credentials and experience in areas including maritime, international and general commercial and civil law.

If you would like to explore whether alternative dispute resolution can help you resolve a dispute or you have any questions about the process, please call Lux-Mediation on 07876 232 305 or email