Mar 15,2023 | 9 min read

Efficiency of ADR processes in India

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) encompasses various methods for resolving disputes outside of the traditional courtroom setting. ADR aims to facilitate a mutually satisfactory outcome between parties without resorting to litigation or the involvement of the judiciary. The specific techniques or modes of ADR utilized may differ based on the legal system and region in question. The following are some widely recognized methods of ADR in India:

  • Arbitration

  • Mediation

  • Conciliation

  • Negotiation

  • Lok Adalat



Arbitration is an alternative dispute resolution process, in which the conflicting parties agree to present their case before an impartial third party or panel, known as an arbitral tribunal. The tribunal makes a decision, called an "Arbitral award," that is typically binding on the parties involved. The process is less formal than a trial, and the rules of evidence may be more flexible. Unlike court proceedings, there is limited opportunity for appeal, and the role of the judiciary is typically limited to enforcing the award.

Advantages of arbitration:

  • Flexibility: Arbitration proceedings are more flexible and economically feasible compared to litigation.

  • Time-saving: Arbitration proceedings occur more quickly than litigation, saving time for both parties.

  • Confidentiality: Disputes subject to arbitration are treated with privacy and not released to the public.

  • Arbitrator choice: Parties have the liberty to choose an arbitrator to handle their dispute.

  • Enforceability: Arbitration awards are generally easier to enforce than court verdicts.

Disadvantages of arbitration:

  • Waiver of court access: If arbitration is mandatory as per the contract between the parties, their right to approach the court is waived.

  • Limited appeal options: There is limited opportunity for appeals in arbitration.

  • Enforcement challenges: Arbitration awards are not directly enforceable; they are executable subject to judicial sanction.



Conciliation is another dispute resolution method that involves an impartial third party, the conciliator, assisting the conflicting parties in reaching a mutually acceptable resolution. This process is less formal than arbitration. The parties are not bound by the conciliator's recommendations and may accept or reject them. However, if both parties agree to the settlement document proposed by the conciliator, it becomes final and binding for both parties.

Advantages of conciliation:

  • Flexibility: Due to the informal nature of conciliation, the process is flexible.

  • Expertise: The conciliator is typically an expert in the relevant field.

  • Cost-effectiveness: Similar to other forms of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), conciliation is more economical compared to litigation.

  • Right to move court: If unsatisfied with the conciliation proceedings, parties have the liberty to approach a court of law.

Disadvantages of conciliation:

  • Non-binding process: The conciliation process is not binding on the conflicting parties.

  • Settlement not guaranteed: The parties may not succeed in reaching a settlement to their conflict.



Mediation is a process where an impartial individual, called a "Mediator," assists the conflicting parties in finding a mutually acceptable resolution to their dispute. The Mediator does not make a decision on the matter but instead facilitates communication between the parties to help them come to a settlement on their own. Mediation leaves control over the outcome of the dispute to the parties.

Advantages of mediation:

  • Control: The parties have complete control over the settlement.

  • Reduced stress: Mediation is generally less stressful than litigation or arbitration. It involves much lesser cost and the process is usually fast.

  • Preserves relationships: Unlike litigation, the parties' relationship is not severely impacted as a result of the mediation process.

  • Confidentiality: Mediation proceedings are generally kept confidential.

Disadvantages of mediation:

  • Possibility of no settlement: Since the decision to settle is up to the parties, there is a chance that they may not reach an agreement.

  • Lack of judicial support: Mediation lacks the support of any judicial authority during its process.

  • Informality: Mediation proceedings lack procedural formality since they are not based on any legal principle.

  • Potential lack of truth: Due to lack of procedural formality, the truth of an issue may not be fully revealed through mediation.



Negotiation is the most frequently used form of Alternative Dispute Resolution. It involves discussions between the parties with the aim of arriving at a mutually acceptable settlement to the dispute. This non-binding process occurs in a variety of settings, including business, non-profit organizations, government branches, legal proceedings, and personal situations such as marriage, divorce, parenting, and everyday life.

Advantages of Negotiation:

  • Negotiation is an informal process that offers flexibility to the parties involved. It usually results in quicker dispute resolution compared to litigation and helps to maintain a healthy relationship between the disputing parties.

  • Negotiation takes place in a private environment, offering more confidentiality to the parties involved.

Disadvantages of Negotiation:

  • A settlement between the disputing parties may not be reached through negotiation.

  • There is a risk imbalance of power between the parties in negotiation.


Lok Adalat

Lok Adalat, which means "people's court," has a historical foundation in India's tradition of resolving disputes through mediation by village elders. The current Lok Adalat system builds on this foundation and is based on Gandhian principles. This system is non-adversarial and involves holding mock courts (known as Lok Adalats) periodically by State Authority, District Authority, Supreme Court Legal Services Committee, High Court Legal Services Committee, or Taluk Legal Services Committee to exercise jurisdiction as they deems fit. These Lok Adalats are generally led by retired judges, social activists, or legal professionals. However, they lack jurisdiction over non-compoundable offenses.

In contrast to regular suits where plaintiffs must pay a specified court fee, Lok Adalats do not require such fees and are not bound by strict procedural requirements outlined in the Indian Civil Procedure Code or Indian Evidence Act. This streamlined process results in a faster resolution of disputes. In addition, parties are given the opportunity to interact directly with the judge, which is typically not allowed in regular courts.




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Bharat Misra

My area of practice is mainly Criminal, Civil, Constitutional, Family and Law of Contracts. I appear in all courts of Delhi NCR.