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Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Methods

When disputes arise in international trade - as they frequently will even with the best contracts - litigation can be extremely expensive, time consuming and complex. It is also unlikely to preserve whatever goodwill remains between the parties, which may be important.

Alternative dispute resolution methods (ADR) aim to resolve disputes in a manner which is more predictable, produces faster results and is less expensive.

There are four main forms of ADR:


This is a legal form of ADR. The parties refer the matter to an arbitrator or an arbitral tribunal and agree to be bound by its findings.


In this form of ADR the parties use a conciliator. The conciliator meets with each party separately to determine their issues and help them resolve their differences. It differs from mediation in that the goal is to conciliate, usually by seeking concessions.


The parties engage a mediator. The mediator assists communication between the parties and helps to generate options that might help resolve the conflict. A mediator helps the parties form their own solution, rather than making a decision.

Fact Finding

An expert or group of experts are invited to determine the facts of a dispute. The investigators may be asked to provide a situation assessment and possibly a recommendation for resolution. This is a valuable option because many international trade disputes arise from different understandings of the facts of the situation.

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