Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) are processes in which a third, impartial party (who is not a judge or a magistrate) helps people to resolve their disputes. These methods can be used to solve civil disputes (not criminal matters) and will often be faster, cheaper and more flexible than court procedures. You can chose to use an alternative dispute resolution method at any time during the dispute.
The main forms of alternative dispute resolution are mediation, conciliation and arbitration.
Mediation is the process through which an independent third party, the mediator, assists the parties in dispute to identify the disputed issues, develop options, consider alternatives and try to reach an agreement. The mediator is not an advice-giver or decision-maker. This means he or she will not give an opinion about the issue/dispute or propose a solution. His or her role is to facilitate open dialogue between the parties, so that they can reach a solution.
Conciliation is the process through which an independent third party, the conciliator, assists the parties in dispute to identify the disputed issues, develop options, consider alternatives and try to reach an agreement. The conciliator may have professional expertise on the matter being discussed and, therefore, may give his or her opinion or advice on the issue. However, s/he will not provide a solution to the parties.
Arbitration is the process through which the parties to a dispute present arguments and evidence to an independent third party, the arbitrator, who makes a determination on the matter. In this regard, arbitration is closer to a court proceeding, as by the end of the process the arbitrator will make a decision that the parties must follow.
There are many different service providers and professionals that offer alternative dispute resolution services throughout Australia. Below, we list a few websites that can help you better understand how ADR works and where to find an ADR service provider next to you. If after consulting these websites you are still unsure about ADR, you can always seek legal aid to get further assistance on these processes.
List of mediators (Supreme Court of the ACT)
Alternative Dispute Resolution (NSW Government)
ADR Service Providers (NSW Government)
Resolving disputes without going to court (NT Government)
Alternative Dispute Resolution (Queensland Courts)
Find an approved mediator (Queensland Law Society)
Mediation (Courts Administration Authority of South Australia)
Find an accredited mediator (The Law Society of South Australia)
Mediation / Finding an accredited mediator (County Courts Victoria)
Mediation services (Legal aid commission of Tasmania)
Mediation and dispute resolution (Department of Justice)
Conciliation conferences (Magistrates Court of Tasmania)
Mediation (Supreme Court of WA)
Mediation and dispute resolution (Legal aid WA)