The development of technology has led to the globalization and commercialization of today’s globe. Now, even those who are located on opposite sides of the globe can communicate with one another and resolve conflicts and business agreements. The majority of individuals no longer have the time to visit the courthouse, file papers, and then wait for a hearing for hours on end. Due to the inefficiencies and disadvantages of litigation, we are quickly moving towards a point where alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is replacing it.
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is the process by which disputes between the parties are resolved amicably or with minimal litigation and without the involvement of judicial institutions. Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) refers to a variety of conflict resolution techniques that assist the parties in the dispute in resolving outside of court. These techniques typically involve a third party who aids in the dispute resolution process. ADR techniques are frequently utilised in conjunction with the litigation process with court approval.
The alternative dispute resolution procedures, which include negotiation, mediation, conciliation, and arbitration, are more flexible and party-centric than the traditional dispute resolution method, litigation, which refers to the proceedings before an appropriate court of law in accordance with the established procedure. The introduction of “Section 89” in the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, and ultimately the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, were prompted by the need to develop alternative mechanisms to lessen the burden of the Courts and provide quick access to justice as well as the revival and strengthening of traditional systems of dispute resolution. The former initiated the statutory provision referring to ADR, whether by the Courts or the parties themselves.
The Arbitration and Conciliation Act, of 1996 is the legislation in India that governs arbitration. It is a type of conflict resolution in which one or more parties decide the dispute. They act as third parties. This third party should be neutral and this party is referred to as an ’arbitrator’ while the decision of the arbitrator, which is essentially a determination of merits in the case, is known as ‘arbitration award’.
Arbitral decisions are final and binding on the parties, and there is little room for challenge. There are also non-binding arbitrations where the party may ask for a trial if it disagrees with the arbitrator’s ruling.
Many big companies would rather reach a rapid resolution to a problem than pursue drawn-out legal battles.
In mediation, a third impartial person seeks to help two or more disputants come to a resolution. The mediator is the term used to describe this third person. In order to thoroughly educate one party about the viewpoint of the other party through discourse and empathetic communication with both parties, the mediator must employ appropriate bargaining strategies. The parties have authority over this procedure. It must be noted that the mediation process’ primary goal is connection-building rather than decision-making. It is more of a peaceful settlement of disagreements with the possibility of further business between the parties.
One of the features of this method of dispute settlement is that the mediator is not permitted to predict how the issue will turn out. Agreements are typically non-binding, and the solution is provided mutually. The parties heavily influence the mediation process, and it is completely private. If the parties are not pleased with the mediation process, they may even file a lawsuit.
A mutually acceptable resolution or compromise is sought through cooperation between the parties during negotiation, which is also a type of dispute resolution. The parties have the option of having their lawyers represent them throughout the negotiations. In India, negotiation is not formally recognised. The way negotiation is conducted is not predetermined.
In conciliation, a third person, known as the conciliator, speaks to each side separately in order to facilitate conversations between the parties in order for the parties to reach a mutually agreeable resolution. The Arbitration and Conciliation Act 1996 governs conciliation in India as well. Conciliation is offered for conflicts resulting from legal connections, whether or not they are contractual, under Section 61.
The idea of Lok Adalats is essential in a nation like India, where a large portion of the population lacks literacy. This was first introduced in 1982 in Gujarat. This idea has been adopted with a focus on easing the load of open cases on the courts while also taking into account other aspects, such as social justice. The Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 governs Lok Adalats. Lok Adalats are addressed specifically in Sections 19, 20, 21, and 22. These have aided those in need in avoiding the inefficiencies of the legal system. The Legal Services Authorities Act was created with the intention of giving everyone, regardless of wealth or poverty, access to justice.
In India, the most widely employed ADR methods include arbitration, mediation, and Lok Adalats, among others. ADR is gradually gaining favour among parties around the globe, yet litigation is still very common in India. ADR is now viewed as essential due to the advancement of various ADR techniques and efforts to increase access to justice. Given their viability and convenience, all ADR techniques, including negotiation, should be legally recognised. This would lessen the strain on the legal system.