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23 Alternatives to court

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1. Introduction

2. What alternatives are there to court?

3. Do I need a lawyer to use alternative dispute resolution?

4. How do I decide whether to use an alternative dispute resolution scheme?

5. How do alternative dispute resolution schemes work?

6. Mediation and conciliation

7. Adjudication and arbitration

8. Grievance and complaints procedure

9. Litigation

10. Negotiation

This involves dealing directly with the person or organisation that seems to have caused the problem. You can do this yourself, or you can get a representative (such as an adviser or solicitor) to do it for you.

Negotiation is usually a good first step. It starts with you approaching the other side with details of your complaint and suggestions for how it can be sorted out. The other side does not need to agree to take part before you (or your representative) approach them.

The process is not binding, although both sides can agree to make a negotiated agreement into a legally-binding contract or order. This contract or order would mean that you could then take the other side to court if they didn’t do what they had agreed to. In some types of dispute, such as medical negligence and housing disrepair, the courts say you must try to negotiate with the other party before applying to court.

Most disagreements can be solved through negotiation. A common example is settlement discussions between solicitors. More than nine out of ten legal claims are settled without needing a trial.

Negotiation is different from conciliation and mediation in that the person negotiating for you:

  • acts for you, and represents your interests;
  • is not independent; and
  • may also advise you about the best course of action.

11. Ombudsmen

12. How much does alternative dispute resolution cost?

13. Dispute resolution services

14. Further help

15. About this leaflet


This leaflet is published by the Gurkha Free Legal Advice (LSC). It was written in association with the Advice Services Alliance.

Leaflet Version: November 2007

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