The Indian judicial system continues to have issues with overcrowding in courts, a lack of sufficient people and resources, strict procedure, and a low judge’s strength. Due to this, the justice delivery system has experienced significant stress. Since the doors to justice cannot be shut, no possible attempt can be made to prevent the inflow of cases. As a result, there is an urgent need for the adoption of a certain kind of mechanism which will eventually boost the disposal of cases. Alternative dispute resolution is a perfect mechanism to get fit in the urgent need of case disposition as it promises to have a great potential to address and solve issues and as an epitome of a quick way of outflow of cases. A large number of pending cases in India have been resolved due to the immense effectiveness of the Lok Adalats (People’s Court). Its distinctiveness in the adoption of methods of arbitration, mediation, negotiation and conciliation makes it a unique factor responsible for case disposition.


Alternative Dispute Resolution, Case Pendency, Arbitration, Negotiation, Mediation, Conciliation, Lok Adalat, Judicial System, Case Disposition


When we talk about any dispute taking place between people, its resolution was always done through a formal system of litigation previously. But, in the last ten years, people’s preference has moved from the formal litigation process to a more convenient mode of dispute resolution, referred to as Alternative Dispute Resolution. For people who became part of any kind of conflict, for them, the primary mode of dispute resolution was, without a second thought, litigation. But, after witnessing how effective and flexible ADR methods can prove to be, the formal system of litigation is being challenged. People have realized the fact that how Alternative Dispute Resolution methods override the traditional litigation method used previously. This kind of paradigmatic shift is the cause of huge drawbacks of litigation such as it often being an expensive process, eating up a huge amount of time of the parties involved. Along with this, there is no surety of satisfactory outcomes for the parties involved and may even cause a situation of debt for financially weaker sections of society. There are many different kinds of alternatives provided by ADR which when experienced by the parties involved in a dispute were felt to be highly efficient and cooperative. ADR encompasses several such methods namely, arbitration, mediation, negotiation, conciliation etc. The process which requires the parties involved in a dispute to present their particular case before the court, which had been eventually the primary and main method of dispute resolution previously, actually was having numerous flaws in its working like its adversarial nature, financial load, mostly delayed justice was served, and also only some control over the final decision. These flaws have led to growing dissatisfaction among litigants, prompting a quest for more efficient and cooperative approaches to dispute resolution. Alternative dispute resolution consists of a variety of non-adversarial processes designed to facilitate the resolution of disputes outside the courtroom. ADR methods, such as negotiation, mediation, and arbitration, prioritize cooperation, communication, and out-of-court settlement. In contrast to the adversarial nature of litigation, ADR give parties more control over the outcome, confidentiality, cost-effectiveness, and the opportunity to preserve relationships. The transition from litigation to alternative dispute resolution marks a paradigmatic shift in the field of dispute resolution. The inherent limitations of litigation, coupled with the benefits offered by ADR, have driven this transformation. ADR methods have become increasingly attractive options for dispute resolution due to their efficiency, cost-effectiveness, preservation of relationships and ability to offer non-delayed solutions.


This paper uses doctrinal research methodology and is descriptive and includes the information collected from secondary sources. The paper consists deep understanding of Alternative Dispute Resolution methods and an analysis of how a major shift occurred from litigation to Alternative Dispute Resolution methods like arbitration, negotiation, mediation and conciliation for the cause of case disposition. Information from secondary sources such as journals, websites etc. is used.


Lawrence Susskind argues that ADR offers a more collaborative and efficient approach to resolving disputes, emphasizing problem-solving and preserving relationships. The author highlights the shortcomings of litigation, such as its adversarial nature and high costs, which have contributed to the growing popularity of ADR methods.[1]

The cost-effectiveness of ADR has been a significant factor in driving the paradigmatic shift. Carrie Menkel-Meadow discusses the financial advantages of ADR, highlighting that it typically involves lower court fees, fewer formal procedures, and reduced legal representation costs. The author argues that the cost savings offered by ADR make it a more accessible option for individuals and small businesses seeking dispute resolution.[2]

The conciliation court is important for justice management. The status quo preservation shouldn’t be the only purpose of the law. The law should rather be the gate keeper of status-quo. With a dynamic society, new ideas must always emerge. The process of ensuring social justice for the country’s citizens include the Conciliation Court, Lok Adalat, Family Court, and the idea of plea bargaining.[3]

The transition from litigation to ADR represents a significant shift in legal culture. Ellen E. Deason discusses the implications for legal education and the evolving role of lawyers. The author argues that legal education should incorporate training in ADR methods to equip future lawyers with the skills necessary to navigate the changing legal landscape and provide clients with a broader range of dispute-resolution options.[4]


The world we live in today is full of daily conflicts and disputes between one another, whether they arise between certain individuals, businesses, or sometimes even nations. Complete eradication of these conflicts and disputes is an inevitable task. But, the challenges caused due to the piling up of conflicts can be reduced by quick and efficient methods of case disposition. To tackle the issues related to peace, harmony and economic development, an efficient resolution of these disputes must be of prime importance. As we are aware of the fact that only litigation was the way to resolve any conflict, which, with no doubt involved carrying up legal proceedings and whatnot in a court of law. But, the recent decade witnessed a huge amount of popularity gained by certain ADR methods which proved themselves to be effective and viable alternatives to dispute resolution through the litigation process.


“Litigation comprises of a long process involving preparation of a case at first, and secondly, presenting it to one’s highest ability in a court of law. For instance, a typical lawsuit is a type of litigation.”[5]

Requirements of Litigation:

Bring legal action against a different person or entity, together with your counsel or legal aid, and then prepare a case. After preparing any particular case, the next step should be to provide the facts and details of the case by attaching pieces of evidence to support the case before the court. After carefully examining the facts and evidence provided in a case, the Judge will be providing the parties with a binding decision.

The process of litigation involves the establishment of legal precedents which eventually are used in the future as a guiding light for similar cases. Litigation which is a properly structured process which requires a formal appearance before a court of law, expects parties involved to fight for their part by providing supporting evidence, and finally receive a fair and just decision. Also, Court judgments are enforceable by law, ensuring compliance from the losing party. But the point is that its certain drawbacks make it a topic that requires a second thought. In litigation, the parties involved give the entire control to pass the decision to a judge in the court. The adversarial nature of litigation often worsens conflicts and can strain relationships between parties, making future cooperation problematic.

Alternative Dispute Resolution-

“The various methods to resolve a dispute without actually standing in a trial is referred to as Alternative dispute resolution (ADR).”[6]

ADR encompasses a wide range of processes designed to resolve disputes outside of the court system. It emphasizes cooperative dispute resolution and allows parties to maintain control over the outcome. The most common forms of ADR are negotiation, mediation, conciliation and arbitration.

ADR processes are more flexible and less formal than litigation, allowing parties to control the resolution method to suit their needs and preferences. Compared to litigation, ADR methods are generally faster and less costly, as they bypass lengthy court procedures and simplify the resolution process. ADR methods focus on fostering communication and understanding between parties, enabling them to preserve relationships and come to a mutually beneficial solution. However, the point which needs our focus is that outcomes of ADR methods like mediation and negotiation are not necessary to be accepted by the parties and eventually are non-binding. Parties opting for mediation or negotiation always have the right to reject the resolution, hence coming back to an earlier stage of no resolution.

The question which needs immense brainstorming is what actually will be the most suitable method of ADR according to the type of dispute. Well, the answer to this question could be easily figured out by thinking about various aspects of a dispute, such as complexity, urgency, parties’ relations etc. While litigation may be appropriate for high-stakes matters requiring a binding decision and the establishment of legal precedents, ADR methods often offer a more efficient and flexible approach to resolving conflicts while preserving relationships. Courts in many jurisdictions may encourage or even require parties to first consider Alternative Dispute Resolution before proceeding with litigation. This strategy encourages the use of ADR techniques, enabling parties to come to amicable agreements, reducing the burden on the courts, and lessening the pressure on relationships.

After careful reading of the above information provided, it could be easily presumed that the two methods of dispute resolution, that is, litigation and ADR, are different from each other and are eventually opposite, uniquely advantageous and disadvantageous. While the process of litigation stands tall with its unique benefits like precedent establishment and many more but the fact that they could be time-consuming and costly at the same time should not be overlooked. ADR methods, on the other hand, prioritize collaborative problem-solving, cost efficiency, and relationship preservation. Finally, the best one that will be suitable for the parties can be decided by attentively going through their respective advantages and disadvantages.


What is Alternative Dispute Resolution? This term solely refers to various kinds of methods which are applied to settle a dispute outside the court. By examining their principles, procedures, and benefits, we can better understand how ADR methods offer effective alternatives to traditional litigation.


Arbitration, being one of the modes of dispute settlement falling under ADR, involves resolving the dispute in the out-of-court system. In this kind of ADR method, one or more than one individuals known as arbitrators are responsible for passing a binding judgement after the parties make them aware of the facts and important points of the dispute which has taken place. Here, the arbitrators are meant to be neutral, in the process give their binding decision after careful examination of the evidence provided. There are limited rights for review or appeal of arbitration rulings. Arbitration may be mandatory or discretionary. Mandatory arbitration can be the result coming only from a mutually signed law or arrangement where the parties agreed- to arbitrate all future or ongoing disputes. If the parties decide to solve the dispute through arbitration, then the provisions of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 shall be applicable in the Indian territory.


In this method of ADR, that is conciliation, a conciliator is appointed by the parties involved in the dispute to guide them so that the parties could resolve the conflict between them on their own. They achieve this by minimising conflicts, enhancing coordination, finding issues, providing technical support, debating possible solutions, and bringing about a negotiated compromise. It differs somewhat from arbitration in this way.


Mediation is another alternative to the ADR process which involves a mediator who is appointed and is impartial concerning the parties involved in the dispute. The appointed mediators who are neutral act as a guiding light concerning the communication and settlement process. These mediators also have to pay attention to ensure that both parties get an equal chance to express their point of view and this process is carried out without mediators imposing their judgement. One of the advantages of the mediation process is that it is voluntary, which means the parties can bring an end to this process anytime when they feel that it is eating up their time and is not proving to be productive.


This process is the most basic of all the other ADR methods and serves as the foundation for others as it is an informal process and is voluntary in which parties are expected to resolve the dispute through direct communication which ought to be mutually satisfactory. Negotiation is particularly suitable when the dispute is relatively simple, the parties are willing to collaborate, and a quick resolution is desired. However, negotiation does not involve a neutral third party and does not produce a legally binding decision. If the parties fail to reach an agreement, they may explore other ADR methods or resort to litigation.

Lok Adalat

The concept of Lok Adalats, or the courts of the people, as established by the government to resolve conflicts via conciliation and compromise, is gaining popularity. Based on the settlement or agreement reached through negotiations, it is a judicial body and a dispute settlement organisation created by the citizens themselves for social justice. In 1982, the first Lok Adalats were held in the village of Una in Junagadh (Gujarat). Adalats also acknowledge matters that are ongoing in regular courts. Pending civil disputes may also appeal to the Lok Adalat under Section 89 of the Code of Civil Procedure. The Legal Services Authorities Act of 1987’s provisions would be followed when the matter is referred to the Lok Adalat. Section 19 of the Legal Services Authorities Act of 1987 regulates the holding of Lok Adalat.[7]


While Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) methods, such as negotiation, mediation, and arbitration, offer numerous advantages over litigation, it is essential to acknowledge their limitations as well. Understanding these limitations well helps parties make correct and reasonable decisions when considering ADR as a means of their dispute resolution.

Also, the efficiency of ADR may be hampered, if one party declines or is reluctant to participate. ADR is not always appropriate or practical for all disputes due to the lack of mandate participation, especially when one party is unwilling to cooperate or has a significant power advantage.

Although negotiation, mediation and arbitration fall under the ADR category, negotiation and mediation are very different from arbitration. As in the former case, the decisions produced are not binding as that in the latter. Due to this drawback of non-binding decisions in the case of negotiation and mediation, any of the parties involved in the dispute can deny the resolution which was taken out after so much brainstorming which eventually puts the whole conflict in an unresolved situation. Due to this the time and effort invested in this process goes in vain. Also, a wealthy or powerful party when gets involved, the factor eventually decreases the motive of the ADR process. In such a situation the inferior party may find themselves in an unjust situation.

Compared to litigation, ADR processes generally have limited discovery procedures. The gathering and presentation of evidence may be less satisfactory, possibly leading to incomplete or biased information about the case. The absence of robust discovery can impact the ability of parties to fully understand the merits and weaknesses of their case and make informed decisions. This limitation may particularly affect complex disputes where a thorough examination of evidence is crucial for a just and fair resolution.

Unlike litigation, ADR processes do not establish binding legal precedents. As a result, similar cases may yield different outcomes, depending on the mediator’s or arbitrator’s interpretation, the specific circumstances, and the parties involved.

ADR methods may not provide the full range of remedies available through litigation. For example, mediation may not have the power to enforce specific performance or issue injunctions. In the case of arbitration also the parties would not get the type of relief they would get if they opted for litigation, as the arbitrators do not have such authority. In addition, there is no guarantee that the person appointed as a mediator or arbitrator would have specialised knowledge of a particular law which is relevant to a particular dispute. These are the limitations that can impact the quality and credibility of the decision brought up.


Our society is full of disputes which keep on arising daily. It is practically not possible to just eradicate them all, but by taking certain measures we can reduce their percentage and in turn, reduce the load on the Indian courts. Certain disputes could be solved just by applying and adopting alternative dispute resolution mechanisms and these methods are becoming more prominent day by day. For a decade now, ADR methods have proven themselves to be effective, cheaper than litigation and also pro-relationship.

To promote the adoption of ADR mechanisms, it is crucial to educate individuals and organizations about their benefits. This can be achieved through awareness campaigns, training programs, and information dissemination efforts. Government, legal institutions, and community organizations should collaborate to conduct workshops, seminars, and public outreach initiatives to increase understanding and familiarity with ADR processes. Providing accessible information on the advantages, procedures, and success stories of ADR can encourage individuals to consider and utilize these methods when facing disputes.

Effective adoption of ADR requires supportive legal and policy frameworks that recognize and facilitate the use of ADR mechanisms. Government should enact legislation that promotes and encourages ADR, and legal systems should incorporate provisions that facilitate ADR processes, such as enforcing mediated settlements or recognizing the enforceability of arbitral awards. Policymakers should consider making ADR a mandatory step before initiating litigation in certain types of disputes, encouraging parties to explore ADR methods first.

One of the major factors which could help in promoting the use of ADR mechanisms is enhancing the quality and results of ADR processes. This can be only done when the ADR practitioners will be trained specialists in this field and when they will have the required knowledge and expertise for which they are being appointed.


People now have a new way to resolve their disputes, thanks to the development of alternative dispute resolution methods. Widespread public support for the quick resolution of disputes in Lok Adalat has given alternative dispute resolution (ADR) a new momentum that will surely result in decreasing the pendency of cases in court. The arena of dispute resolution has undergone a significant transformation in recent decades, with a notable shift from litigation towards Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) methods. The transition from litigation to ADR represents a fundamental shift in the way societies approach conflict resolution. ADR methods, such as negotiation, mediation, and arbitration, emphasize collaboration, flexibility, and efficiency, offering distinct advantages over litigation. The benefits of ADR include reduced costs, faster resolution times, preservation of relationships, and the empowerment of parties in decision-making. By promoting open communication, active participation, and creative problem-solving, ADR methods provide a platform for parties to reach mutually agreeable solutions according to their unique needs and interests. The advantages of ADR have led to its increasing acceptance and integration into legal systems worldwide. Many jurisdictions have enacted legislation and established institutional frameworks to support and regulate ADR processes. Courts have embraced ADR by incorporating it into their procedures, requiring parties to consider ADR before proceeding to litigation, or even mandating participation in ADR programs. While ADR is not without limitations, it presents a valuable and viable alternative for resolving disputes and fostering a more collaborative and efficient approach to conflict resolution. As societies continue to embrace ADR, the vision of a more harmonious, accessible, and effective system of dispute resolution comes into focus.


Anuja Bansal

Mangalayatan University Jabalpur (MUJ)

[1] Lawrence E. Susskind, When ADR Becomes the Law: A Review of Federal Practice, 9, Negotiation Journal, 359 (1996)

[2] Carrie Menkel-Meadow, Toward Another View of Legal Negotiation: The Structure of Problem Solving, 31, UCLA Law Review 764 (2003)

[3] Jain P.C., Need of today Crisis management of justice –Conciliation Court,

Law Teller 43 (1993)

[4] Ellen E. Deason, Procedural Rules for Complementary Systems of Litigation and Mediation – Worldwide, 80 Notre Dame L. Rev. 553 (2005).

[5] Lawyers,,be%20proven%20effectively%20in%20court (last visited July 11, 2023)

[6] NY,,stressful%20than%20traditional%20court%20proceedings.,  (last visited July 11, 2023)

[7] National Legal Services Authority,, (last visited July 12, 2023)