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Alternatives to court

This information applies to England and Wales

If you have a legal problem, you might have to go to court to sort it out. But going to court can be slow, expensive and stressful. There are other ways to resolve your problem known as Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). You should get advice on your legal problem before deciding whether to choose some form of ADR.

Read this page to find out more about the options available.

Thre are different types of ADR which are:

  • mediation and conciliation - an independent person helps you and your opponent try to find a solution to the problem
  • adjudication - involves an independent person considering both sides of a disagreement and making a decision
  • arbitration - is like adjudication but is a more formal process where you have to accept the arbitrator's decision. You are unlikely to be able to challenge the decision if you don't agree with it
  • ombudsmen - investigate and resolve complaints about organisations and government bodies. Normally you must have used the organisation's internal complaints procedure before taking your case to an ombudsman.

The cost of ADR varies from scheme to scheme. Some ADR schemes such as the ombudsmen are free while others charge a fee. If you are using family mediation, you may be able to get legal aid to help with your legal costs. It is usually cheaper to use ADR than to go to court.

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