Communities and Justice

Alternative Dispute Resolution before, during and after court

You can use alternative dispute resolution (ADR) at any time during a dispute. Participating in ADR may be voluntary, court ordered or required by the term of a contract.

ADR before starting a case

You might want to attempt ADR to avoid the expense of starting a case. If you do not resolve the dispute through ADR, you can still go to a court or tribunal, although you should get information about any time limits that apply. Contact LawAccess NSW on 1300 888 529 or get legal advice.

As well as choosing to use ADR, you might be required to take part in ADR before you start a case. In family law parenting disputes, for example, most people are required to attend family dispute resolution before they are allowed to start a court case.

Another situation in which you might have to try ADR first is where the dispute is about a contract that contains a 'dispute resolution clause'. This is a clause that states the parties to the contract must, if there is a dispute, try to negotiate or use a certain type of ADR. These kinds of clauses are common in commercial, employment and some consumer contracts.

For more information about whether ADR is required or appropriate before starting a case for your type of dispute, you can seek legal advice or contact LawAccess on 1300 888 529 for free legal information.

ADR during court or tribunal proceedings

You can choose to take part in ADR at any time, including after you have started the case. If you would like to try ADR, you could start by asking the other people involved in the dispute to take part or by contacting an ADR service provider to discuss which steps to take next.

For more information about ADR offered by court and tribunals during litigation, see the individual jurisdiction sites.

ADR after the court or tribunal decides

You can also choose to arrange ADR after the court or tribunal has made a decision. One reason to consider this is if one or more of the parties is considering appealing the decision. Another is where circumstances change and further issues arise after the decision. In this case you might want to try ADR before going back to the court or tribunal.

In some cases, the court or tribunal may encourage or require you to attend ADR if a party has started appeal proceedings. 

Last updated:

12 Mar 2020

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