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Dispute Resolution, Conciliation & Adjudication

Dispute Resolution

Definition: Dispute resolution also known as conflict resolution refers to the process of formally resolving a dispute or conflict between two parties.

Dispute Resolution Methods

The processes of dispute resolution fall under two major categories:

  • Adjudication Processes

These are involuntary processes which involve a neutral third party such as a magistrate, judge or any other legally appointed official to make some form of judgement which will result in a binding resolution for the dispute.

  • Consensual Processes

Consensual processes are used when the parties in dispute attempt to reach a mutual agreement without involving any form of legal body. These processes involve negotiation, mediation and conciliation and are often referred to as methods of alternative dispute resolution (ADR).


Another form of ADR is conciliation. This is when the parties in dispute use a conciliator to resolve the conflict. The conciliator meets with the two parties separately in order to gain an understanding of their complaints and objectives.

The conciliator then meets with both parties together to improve communication, lower tensions, interpret issues and provide potential solutions in order to effectively resolve the dispute.

Conciliation serves to restore a personal or business relationship. Furthermore, conciliation has no legal standing and the conciliator has no authority to make a final decision or award.


Adjudication may be carried out in various forms, most commonly, it occurs in the court system. However, alternative dispute resolution processes such as arbitration may take place outside of the court system. Court-based adjudication is largely more formal than arbitration or other methods of ADR.

Adjudication is an adversarial process which means that evidence is presented in order for a judgement or award to be issued resulting in a win-lose outcome. In civil cases, the plaintiff files for legal charges against the defendant. In this case, both parties are compelled by law to appear in court and to participate in the proceedings.

Once all the evidence and arguments have been presented, a jury or judge will make a legally binding decision on both parties. An appeal may be filed to a higher court to reverse the decision.

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