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  • Writer's pictureManon Schonewille

10 Emerging Trends and Unmet User Needs in Appropriate Dispute Resolution (ADR)

Updated: Feb 14

The world of Appropriate Dispute Resolution (ADR) is evolving, and users are expressing new demands. This means we need global discussions on necessary adaptations for resolving cross-border conflicts. Let's dive into 10 emerging trends and unmet user needs that are reshaping how disputes are resolved.

  1. Global Alignment:

  • Users and providers of ADR services worldwide are beginning to discuss and align on changes that are needed.

  • The Global Pound Conference (GPC) series, initiated by IMI in 2016-18, highlighted universal core changes desired by users: greater efficiency, more cooperation (as opposed to adversarial behavior), mixed mode processes, and a growing recognition of in-house counsel as drivers for change around the world.

  1. Growing International Interest in Mixed Modes:

  • Users are increasingly interested in mixed-mode approaches, combining evaluative and non-evaluative processes, for both small and large-scale disputes.

  • The appeal lies in having the best of both worlds offered by mixed-mode mechanisms: preserving business relationships and the procedural flexibility of mediation and having the guarantee that an outcome is achieved and expert advice of adjudicative processes.

  1. Subject Matter vs. Process Expertise of ADR-Neutrals:

  • Users are looking for ADR-Neutrals with both subject matter and procedural expertise, leading to a trend of combining specialists for comprehensive dispute resolution and neutrals being able to work from diverse practice models.

  • Bridging the gap between user expectations and satisfaction is crucial for the continued evolution of ADR-Neutrals' expertise.

  1. Diversity of ADR-Neutral(s) & Personality Profiles:

  • Users want more information about ADR professionals before engaging them, emphasizing the importance of diverse panels with details on personalities and cultural backgrounds.

  • The push for greater diversity and different practice models aligns with the need for efficient and improved working relations.

  1. Uptake of New Technologies and ODR:

  • Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) is becoming more common, driven by advancements in videoconferencing technology and the desire for efficiency.

  • Increased environmental awareness influences the use of data rooms and technological tools to reduce the carbon footprint of dispute resolution proceedings.

  • Additional Information (from original text): It is increasingly commonplace for online dispute resolution (ODR) to be used in courts as well as in arbitration and mediation proceedings. Videoconferencing technology is constantly improving, and users and their counsel seem to be embracing the greater use of ODR to reduce legal spend and increase efficiency.

  1. Relationships are Increasingly Valued:

  • Beyond cost and time considerations, the value of relationships emerges as a key driver in commercial disputes.

  • Mediation and amicable negotiation processes allow for the inclusion of relationship considerations, fostering a cooperative rather than adversarial tone.

  1. Shift from Adversarial to Collaborative Advocacy:

  • Users express a desire for more collaborative legal counsel, trained in mediation skills.

  • Skilled mediation advocates play a crucial role in settling disputes, moving away from positional rhetoric towards discussions focused on better solutions.

  1. Greater Shift towards Corporate Social Responsibility:

  • Corporate social responsibility principles, including Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) factors, gain prominence in ADR.

  • A new generation of ADR Neutrals embraces initiatives such as Green Pledges, aligning with global goals for a sustainable future.

  • A further need and trend is the move towards greater awareness of corporate social responsibility principles in ADR, including Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) factors.

  1. The Growth of Third-Party Funding and New ADR Funds:

  • Rising costs prompt the growth of third-party litigation funds, leading to a shift in access to justice.

  • Specialized ADR funds emerge, investing in collective settlement processes beneficial to all disputants, creating new possibilities for amicable outcomes.

  • Given the rising costs of commercial litigation and arbitration, access to justice has become unaffordable in many jurisdictions. This has led to a worldwide growth in third party litigation funds, who invest in litigious proceedings.

  1. Disclosure Protocols vs. Codes of Conduct:

  • Universal Disclosure Protocol for Mediation (UDPM) addresses cultural diversity, allowing for a flexible mediation process tailored to the parties' preferences.

  • The shift from codes of conduct to disclosure protocols ensures full self-determination, avoiding constraints imposed by (national) norms.

  • There has been a tendency for professional associations of lawyers, arbitrators, and mediators to set codes of conduct or rules of professional behavior when practicing ADR.

Conclusion: As ADR adapts to these emerging trends and user needs, it has the potential to revolutionize how disputes are resolved, making the process faster, more cost-effective, and aligned with the changing dynamics of our global landscape.

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