Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is increasingly touted as a cut above the traditional legal approach to resolving disputes. RACS Business Manager Melanie February explores the alternative and rounds up some of the many benefits of Alternative Dispute Resolution.

“I wasn’t aware that my dispute could be resolved through Alternative Dispute Resolution and at such an affordable rate” is a common response from people who opt for mediation or Alternative Dispute Resolution.

Over the decades, most disputes — whether personal or commercial, have generally been resolved through the legal system or by way of arbitration. This process comes with its advantages, such as allowing for reasonable and fair opportunities to state your case and appeal decisions taken on a matter or outcome. However, in many instances, the legal approach presents many challenges that outweigh its benefits including lengthy time frames, exorbitant costs to resolve matters, as well as the distorted power imbalances of parties.

Conflict and disputes have become costly affairs for businesses, institutions, and society. On this account, the aim is therefore to prevent or mitigate disputes as far as possible. The ideal situation may not always be possible, but impactful solutions can be implemented through an effective Alternative Dispute Resolution system.

Key aspects of an effective Alternative Dispute Resolution system are the preventive mechanisms built into the systems, which lessen the escalation of conflict. Examples of such preventive mechanisms are the inclusion of Alternative Dispute Resolution champions and platforms in the workplace, as well as peer mediation forums in institutions.

Our Resolve and Change Systems (RACS) team, formerly Mediation Transformation Practice (MTP), developed a Conflict Analysis Costing Tool, which demonstrates how unmanaged conflict and disputes can cost businesses thousands of rands, and further, substantially reduce productivity. One other disadvantage of this scenario are parties developing low work morale and work ethic, and generally, not taking accountability for any proposed intervention or outcome.

On the back of the aforementioned information, one can fairly and safely say that the Alternative Dispute Resolution process is the better and most cost-effective route.

Some of the main benefits of Alternative Dispute Resolution are:

  1. Addressing and confronting conflict situations
  2. Mitigating the impact of the conflict
  3. Enabling transformed businesses and societies
  4. Empowering individuals on both a personal and commercial level
  5. Cultivating change agents or catalysts for the effective resolution of disputes

By opting for the Alternative Dispute Resolution approach, you will further save time (6) and money (7), as well as ensure that parties take full accountability for the process and the outcome (8) because, after all, “the outcome is as important as the process”.

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