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Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) refers to the various methods by which disputes are resolved outside the courtroom. Such methods include mediation (an independent third party is brought in to mediate a dispute) and arbitration (the dispute is referred to a third party for a binding decision).
In Ontario, the Rules of Civil Procedure mandate and regulate mediation in civil cases commenced in Toronto, Windsor and Ottawa. Mediation remains common in other parts of Ontario, and parties to a dispute will often agree to non-binding mediation by mutually selecting a mediator. Arbitration may be pursued on an ad hoc basis under a structure provided for in the local jurisdiction or under local statutory provisions.
Alternatively, arbitration may be conducted under the administrative and supervisory powers of one of the recognized international arbitration institutes, such as the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris, the London Court of International Arbitration or the American Arbitration Association. These bodies do not themselves render arbitration awards, but they do provide a measure of neutrality and an internationally recognized system of procedural rules.
One advantage of arbitration compared to domestic court procedure is the confidentiality of arbitration proceedings. The arbitration process is normally private; hearings are not public and written transcripts of proceedings are not generally available to the public. In addition, the arbitration process may be faster than the court system, and there is generally no right of appeal from an arbitration award. This may lead to disputes being resolved more quickly.
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