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  • Jun 03, 2019
    Alternate Dispute Resolution Mechanism   The Concept & its efficacy:“It is the spirit and not the form of law that keeps the justice alive.” LJ Earl WarrenThe concept of Conflict Management through Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) has introduced a new mechanism of dispute resolution that is non adversarial. A dispute is basically ‘lis inter partes’ and the justice dispensation system in India has found an alternative to Adversarial litigation in the form of ADR Mechanism. New methods of dispute resolution such as ADR facilitate parties to deal with the underlying issues in dispute in a more cost-effective manner and with increased efficacy. In addition, these processes have the advantage of providing parties with the opportunity to reduce hostility, regain a sense of control, gain acceptance of the outcome, resolve conflict in a peaceful manner, and achieve a greater sense of justice in each individual case. The resolution of disputes takes place usually in private and is more viable, economic, and efficient. ADR is generally classified into at least four types: negotiation, mediation, collaborative law, and arbitration. (Sometimes a fifth type, conciliation, is included as well, but for present purposes it can be regarded as a form of mediationNeed of ADR in India:The system of dispensing justice in India has come under great stress for several reasons mainly because of the huge pendency of cases in courts. In India, the number of cases filed in the courts has shown a tremendous increase in recent years resulting in pendency and delays underlining the need for alternative dispute resolution methods. It is in this context that a Resolution was adopted by the Chief Ministers and the Chief Justices of States in a conference held in New Delhi on 4th December 1993 under the chairmanship of the then Prime Minister and presided over by the Chief Justice of India.In a developing country like India with major economic reforms under way within the framework of the rule of law, strategies for swifter resolution of disputes for lessening the burden on [1]the courts and to provide means for expeditious resolution of disputes, there is no better option but to strive to develop alternative modes of dispute resolution (ADR) by establishing facilities for providing settlement of disputes through arbitration, conciliation, mediation and negotiation.Impact/resulting acts of ADR:The technique of ADR is an effort to design a workable and fair alternative to our traditional judicial system. It is a fast track system of dispensing justice. There are various ADR techniques viz. arbitration, mediation, conciliation, mediation-arbitration, mini-trial, private judging, final offer arbitration, court-annexed ADR and summary jury trial.These techniques have been developed on scientific lines in USA, UK, France, Canada, China, Japan, South Africa, Australia and Singapore. ADR has emerged as a significant movement in these countries and has not only helped reduce cost and time taken for resolution of disputes, but also in providing a congenial atmosphere and a less formal and less complicated forum for various types of disputes.The Arbitration Act, 1940 was not meeting the requirements of either the international or domestic standards of resolving disputes. Enormous delays and court intervention frustrated the very purpose of arbitration as a means for expeditious resolution of disputes. The Supreme Court in several cases repeatedly pointed out the need to change the law. The Public Accounts Committee too deprecated the Arbitration Act of 1940. In the conferences of Chief Justices, Chief Ministers and Law Ministers of all the States, it was decided that since the entire burden of justice system cannot be borne by the courts alone, an Alternative Dispute Resolution system should be adopted. Trade and industry also demanded drastic changes in the 1940 Act. The Government of India thought it necessary to provide a new forum and procedure for resolving international and domestic disputes quickly.Thus "The Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996"came into being. The law relating to Arbitration and Conciliation is almost the same as in the advanced countries. Conciliation has been given statutory recognition as a means for settlement of the disputes in terms of this Act. In addition to this, the new Act also guarantees independence and impartiality of the arbitrators irrespective of their nationality. The new Act of 1996 brought in several changes to expedite the process of arbitration. This legislation has developed confidence among foreign parties interested to invest in India or to go for joint ventures, foreign investment, transfer of technology and foreign collaborations. The advantage of ADR is that it is more flexible and avoids seeking recourse to the courts. In conciliation/mediation, parties are free to withdraw at any stage of time. It has been seen that resolution of disputes is quicker and cheaper through ADR. The parties involved in ADR do not develop strained relations; rather they maintain the continued relationship between themselves. Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996Part I of this act formalizes the process of Arbitration and Part III formalizes the process of Conciliation. (Part II is about Enforcement of Foreign Awards under New York and Geneva Conventions.)Arbitration:The process of arbitration can start only if there exists a valid Arbitration Agreement between the parties prior to the emergence of the dispute. As per Section 7, such an agreement must be in writing. The contract, regarding which the dispute exists, must either contain an arbitration clause or must refer to a separate document signed by the parties containing the arbitration agreement. The existence of an arbitration agreement can also be inferred by written correspondence such as letters, telex, or telegrams which provide a record of the agreement. An exchange of statement of claim and defence in which existence of an arbitration agreement is alleged by one party and not denied by other is also considered as valid written arbitration agreement. ConciliationConciliation is a less formal form of arbitration. This process does not require an existence of any prior agreement. Any party can request the other party to appoint a conciliator. One conciliator is preferred but two or three are also allowed. In case of multiple conciliators, all must act jointly. If a party rejects an offer to conciliate, there can be no conciliation. MediationMediation, a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) or "appropriate dispute resolution", aims to assist two (or more) disputants in reaching an agreement. The parties themselves determine the conditions of any settlements reached— rather than accepting something imposed by a third party. The disputes may involve (as parties) states, organizations, communities, individuals or other representatives with a vested interest in the outcome. NegotiationNegotiation is a dialogue intended to resolve disputes, to produce an agreement upon courses of action, to bargain for individual or collective advantage, or to craft outcomes to satisfy various interests. It is the primary method of alternative dispute resolution. Lok Adalat:“While Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 is a fairly standard western approach towards ADR, the Lok Adalat system constituted under National Legal Services Authority Act, 1987 is a uniquely Indian approach”.It roughly means "People's court". India has had a long history of resolving disputes through the mediation of village elders. The system of Lok Adalats is an improvement on that and is based on Gandhian principles. This is a non-adversarial system, where by mock courts (called Lok Adalats) are held by the State Authority, District Auth[2]ority, Supreme Court Legal Services Committee, High Court Legal Services Committee, or Taluk Legal Services Committee, periodically for exercising such jurisdiction as they thinks fit. These are usually presided by retired judge, social activists, or members of legal profession. It does not have jurisdiction on matters related to non-compoundable offences.
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