ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) (Ro.: soluționarea alternativă a litigiilor, Fr.: mode alternatif de résolution des conflits, De.: alternative streitbeilegung, Alb.: Zgjidhja Alternative e Mosmarrëveshjeve, Gr.: εναλλακτική επίλυση διαφορών) (See also: arbitration, conciliation, mediation) = collective name given to alternative, extrajudicial methods of resolving legal disputes, with decisions being taken by a neutral third party. The most common forms of ADR are conciliation, mediation, arbitration and online dispute resolution for consumer disputes. Some jurisdictions require parties to resort to ADR before allowing their cases to be heard in court.

With mediation, the mediator has to be mutually agreed by the parties, their role being to assist the parties in reaching their own agreement. The decision is non-binding and cannot be imposed on the parties – for a settlement to be concluded, the parties must voluntarily agree to the decision. 

Arbitration can be either voluntary or mandatory (as a result of contractual obligations or statutory requirements). The role of the arbitrator is to review the evidence in the case and impose a decision that is legally binding on both sides and enforceable in court.

Useful resources

Case law - Court of Appeal (UK), Halsey v Milton Keynes General NHS Trust, 2004 - Court of Appeal (UK), PGF II SA v OMFS Co 1 Ltd, 2013 - Queen’s Bench Division (UK), Laporte v The Commissioner for the Police of the Metropolis, 2015

Legislation - Ordinance no. 38/2015 regarding ADR between consumers and merchants [Romanian] - The Alternative Dispute Resolution for Consumer Disputes (Competent Authorities and Information) Regulations 2015 [English] - Austrian Alternative Dispute Resolution Act [German] - German Arbitration Law [English] – EU Directive on alternative dispute resolution for consumer disputes [English] - U.S. Code, Title 9, Arbitration [English]

Organisations and associations - European Arbitration Chamber - European Mediation Network Initiative 

Online publications - Shavell, Steven¸ 1995, Alternative Dispute Resolution: An economic analysis, The Journal of Legal Studies University of Chicago Press - About Alternative Dispute Resolution


Ruhl, Giesela, 2015, Alternative and online dispute resolution for cross-border consumer contracts: a critical evaluation of the European legislature's recent efforts to boost competitiveness and growth in the internal market, J.C.P. 2015, 38(4), 431-456

Kenyon, Valerie and Tharle, Samantha, 2015, Resolving consumer disputes - what changes from 1 October 2015, I.P.L.R. 2015, 60, 25-26

Edwards, Harry, 1986, Alternative Dispute Resolution: Panacea or Anathema?, Harvard Law Review Vol. 99, No. 3 (Jan., 1986), pp. 668-684

Barrett, Jerome and Barrett, Joseph, 2004, A History of Alternative Dispute Resolution: The Story of a Political, Social, and Cultural Movement, John Wiley & Sons Inc


By Sabina Aionesei