Three alternative methods to prevent commercial disputes from spiralling out of control

Businesses regularly face commercial disputes. These can be costly, and disruptive and have a significant toll on owners and shareholders.

Although many people assume that the only action available is litigation via the courts, this is likely to take a considerable amount of time and may be expensive or damage your relationship with the other party.

That’s where Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) offers an effective way to resolve a dispute while minimising its impact on your business and your relationship with the party, as well as being generally less stressful and anxiety-inducing than a court battle.

There are three forms of commercial ADR that you might wish to consider in different circumstances.


Mediation will see you and the other party agree to appoint an independent mediator to help you reach an agreement about the dispute and find a way forward.

For this to work, both you and the other party will need to be willing to compromise and understand the other side’s perspective.

Mediation aims to reach an agreement that can then be made legally binding.

If you don’t reach a resolution through mediation, you can still pursue court action to resolve your dispute.


Arbitration is a method of dispute resolution in which you agree with the other party to appoint a neutral arbitrator to hear your arguments and reach a binding decision. It is generally quicker and cheaper than pursuing court action.

However, if an award is made by an arbitrator, you may still need to go to court if the other party does not honour it.


Adjudication is a form of ADR used predominantly in the construction industry where the nature of the sector makes disputes particularly commonplace.

It is a mechanism provided for in contracts as a first option to resolve a dispute quickly and with minimal implications on the cash flow of the parties involved.

The best option when a dispute arises is to seek legal advice at an early stage as to the best strategy for your particular circumstances.

Selecting the most appropriate form of dispute resolution can save you time, money and stress while helping to preserve important commercial relationships with customers and suppliers.

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