‘Informal’ and ‘alternative’ dispute-resolution are different

Do not confuse the informal stage of a procedure with a ‘safe place’ which lies outside the procedure altogether

It is common to confuse

  • trying alternative dispute resolution and
  • using the ‘informal’ stage of an institution’s formal adversarial procedures.

The ‘informal’ stage is a stage in an adversarial procedure which leads on into a hearing or series of hearings where one side is found to be in the right.

Alternative dispute resolution is an ‘alternative’ to the adversarial procedure. It can provide a safe place in which to talk freely about solutions if the parties agree not to use what is said against one another later if the talks fail.

  • There can be a win-win solution.
  • It is always possible to go back the the adversarial procedures if this does not work and agreement is not reached.