Alternative Dispute Resolution Centre A Centre for Public Policy Research Initiative

What is ADR
The Alternative Dispute Resolution(ADR) mechanisms are largely out of court settlements aimed at settling disputes in an amicable manner, which are free from strict procedural formalities and are cost effective. ADR mechanisms have been mooted as a guiding light or to a large extent a panacea for all evils affecting the legal system. It has been developed, primarily to ameliorate the present conditions existing in courts, which includes delay caused due to docket explosion, procedurally and non-availability of a satisfied justice mechanism preventing the people to opt for a better alternative. They have been the most widely discussed solution for this appalling state of affairs. Since independence the state has introduced various legislations and government initiatives even after which the alternate mechanisms continue to be primarily commercial in nature and have not penetrated to the under privileged masses.

The different forms of ADR are;
  • Arbitration,
  • Conciliation and
  • Mediation
In addition to this there exists allied forms of ADR which are a largely a mixture of the above mentioned techniques. ADR mechanisms are been legally recognized by the law and the courts are eager to encourage its use to solve the problems affecting the system. The sanctity of ADR derives from the settlement agreement reached towards by the parties who have consented to get their disputes resolved amicably through any of the techniques. In Arbitration the final decision is called an Award which cannot be challenged before the courts except in certain exceptional circumstances. In mediation and conciliation normally the parties themselves agree upon a decision which is made in writing which has the effect of a decree of the court. Thus the agreement been reached upon a consensus between the parties bind them and determine their rights and liabilities.

The advantages of the ADR system has failed to penetrate the rural masses leading to severe injustice to the common people in an era where Right to legal aid, Right to free and fair trial and the Right to quick and speedy justice are considered as inviolable fundamental rights as guaranteed by the Constitution. The fallouts of the alternative systems including Lok Adalats and Gram Nyayalayas have been less than satisfactory to the appalling state of affairs. It is with this underlying fact that the need to evolve a system free from the technicalities and lacunas that can effectually redress the grievance of the common people crops up.

It is believed that the development of the country can be also understood from the capability of its legal system in rendering effective justice. In India we have a massive legal system comprising nearly 15000 courts across the country. The total pendency of cases only in the subordinate courts has been around 25 million. The situation of higher courts are no different, where about 37.12 lakh cases and 44819 cases are pending in the supreme court and high court respectively. There is an imminent need for streamlining the ADR mechanisms to make them workable for the common people.

Are these Settlements valid?
The ADR Mechanisms are legally valid and accepted by courts. The Courts have now been encouraging the use of ADR in cases where compromise is possible. The effect of an Arbitration Award which is similar to decision by a Court has the same effect of a decree and is final, binding and non-challengeable. Similarly the settlement agreements reached through the process of Conciliation or Mediation is deemed to be a decree and is binding. The Centre achieves settlement between the parties through the various modes in the best interest of the parties themselves. Where the agreement is on a dispute already pending before the courts, it shall be enforced as a decree by filing a Compromise suit. Thus willing parties who want to get their disputes settled and who does not want to undergo the long procedure and delays caused in the courts may resort to ADR by effectively utilizing the services of the ADR Centre.

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