The Role of Alternative Dispute Resolution in Developing Countries
Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR), mainly denotes a wide range of dispute resolution processes that act as a means of disagreeing parties to agree without using the means of litigation. It is a collective term that refers to how the parties can settle disputes, with the help of a third party. It is also known as external dispute resolution (EDR). ADR has gained widespread acceptance among both the general public and the legal profession in recent years and is also being adopted as the means to help settle disputes alongside the court system itself. There are various widely used forms of ADR such as Arbitration, Mediation Negotiation, and Conciliation.
In comparison to litigation, the ADR mechanism offers low cost and faster resolution of disputes. It offers flexibility in the sense that the parties to the dispute can opt for the method to be used for the resolution of disputes. Since the process is more private, it offers confidentiality in a way that litigation cannot. Alternative Dispute Resolution for businesses in the developing countries may not be completely suitable, however, it is important to establish a definite precedent when there is a power imbalance or when parties are not committed to resolving disputes since it is perceived as a weakness or when there is lack of trust.
To incorporate the ADR mechanism in the dispute resolution system, governments in hi and especially low-income governments should promote ADR as a viable option to resolve disputes and thereby strengthen it. However, in current times, However, in the present circumstances where the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) has put everything on hold, it is important to address its impact on ADR. The coronavirus (COVID-19) global health crisis is drastically impacting communities worldwide. It has caused unprecedented disruptions and damaged the world’s economy and business relationships. A great number of commercial disputes are coming forth as parties are finding it difficult to perform their contractual obligations. There is a complete possibility that the crisis will result in a surge of litigation and will consequently delay the resolution of pending court cases. It is the unprecedented delays that should steer the parties towards alternative dispute resolution (ADR). It is in the wake of this crisis that Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) or Virtual ADR has come into play. Small scale businesses even in developing countries are now opting for Online Dispute Resolution.
One of the greatest examples of the growth of ADR in developing countries is India. In India, commercial arbitration has been well established since the 1990s. It is governed by the Arbitration and Conciliation Act 1996, which draws on the UNCITRAL Model Law and rules. However, apart from Arbitration and mediation, another approach to ADR in India is the system of Lok Adalats. Lok Adalat, also known as people’s adult is one of the most popular ADR mechanisms in India (especially rural India). It is a forum where cases that are pending on Panchayat or pre-litigation stage in court are settled. Lok Adalat is effective when it comes to the settlement of monetary disputes. Apart from monetary disputes, it is also highly effective in partition disputes, matrimonial disputes, etc. The first Lok Adalat was held in Gujarat in 1999. This concept is an innovative Indian contribution to the area of jurisprudence. The system of Lok Adalat is based on the Gandhian principles and is a new addition to the justice dispensation system of India and has so far been successful in providing a supplementary forum to the victims for a somewhat satisfactory settlement of disputes.
Like India, ADR has witnessed growth in Ghana, Nigeria, Asia-Pacific Region as well. ADR should be promoted and strengthened as well as the developing countries should be equipped with the infrastructure required to support the growth of ADR