Topic of the Day - Alternative Dispute Resolution

Alternative dispute resolution, or external dispute resolution, typically denotes a wide range of dispute resolution processes and techniques that act as a means for disagreeing parties to come to an agreement.

It is an important concept with respect to the polity segment of the IAS Exams.

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What is an Alternative Dispute Resolution?

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is a technique to resolve disputes and disagreements between the parties by arriving at an amenable settlement through negotiations and discussions. It is an attempt to establish an alternative mechanism other than the traditional methods of dispute resolutions. The ADR mechanism offers to facilitate the resolution of matters of business issues and the others where it has not been possible to initiate any process of negotiation or arrive at a mutually agreeable solution.

In India, ADR is established on the basis of Article 14 (Equality before law) and Article 21 (Right to life and personal liberty) under the Constitution of India. The Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP) of Equal justice and free legal aid as engraved in Article 39-A of the Indian Constitution can also be achieved by the ADR.

Types of Alternate Dispute Resolution mechanisms

Various Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanisms can be classified as:

  1. Arbitration
  2. Conciliation
  3. Mediation
  4. Judicial Settlements inclusive of Lok Adalats


Under this form of Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanism, both the parties involved in the dispute, choose the person to hear and determine their dispute through a consensus. The objective of arbitration is to arrive at a fair resolution through an unbiased tribunal speedily and in a cost-effective manner.


Under the process of conciliation, the intention is to facilitate the settlement between the parties. The parties, however, are not obliged or are not bound by the conciliation, in a sense that negotiations can be carried out until the parties arrive at a mutually pleasing settlement. The process is handled by an impartial individual termed as the conciliator. He is an active participant in the process of conciliation and is involved in discussing the issues, negotiating and bringing about an amicable settlement.


A mediator is involved in assisting the parties in dispute to reach an agreement. The parties in dispute themselves set the conditions of the settlement to be reached. The third-party does not impose any decisions on the parties but merely acts as a facilitator involved in improving the dialogue between the parties.

Lok Adalats

Establishment Lok Adalat system of dispute settlement system was brought about with the Legal Services Authorities Act 1987 for expediting the system of dispute settlement. In Lok Adalats, disputes in the pre-litigation stage could be settled amicably.

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