Alternative Dispute Resolution

Question: ADR is an effective tool towards resolution of disputes.
                  Discuss with reference to Lord Woolf’s reforms.



Lord Browne-Wikinson, former law Lord turned mediator, quoted in the Times, March 16, 2005,[1] “Having spent years in court reading the papers for the cases only to be told at the last minute that the parties have come to terms, I am persuaded that Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is something that people ought to try first” with the quote above, we could define ADR as any method of resolving a dispute without resorting to legal process.


ADR has its roots in the United States in the late 1960s and was reinvented in the 1970s and became the fashionable development in England and Wales since 1990. Many British lawyers, notably the Lord Chancellors Mackay (conservative), then Lord Irvine (Labour) took a very active interest in this American import, as a means of avoiding the public and private expense and the private pain of litigation.

Before the Woolf Reforms, the English civil procedure has always reflected the values and traditions of the English sport of cricket, most markedly in the adversary system of justice, and not only in the sense that both are slow and boring, that is each side prepares its team for the contest, one side in turn goes into bat (address the court and call its witness) and faces the bowling of the other side (i.e the cross-examination of its witness), then the other side takes its turn at the wicket, calling its witness. Each side then has the opportunity in final speeches to make its case and unmake that of it opponent. Through out, an independent third party umpire, selected on grounds of his relative expertise and experience, watches, listens and enforces the rules and at the end of the game gives his decision to the winner.

One of the major problems with this system is that an adversarial system, where the parties are left to battle it out,...