Promoting alternative Dispute Resolution in Northern Ireland
In September 2011, a partnership between the NI ombudsman, the Law Centre (NI) and the School of Law at Queen’s University led to the production of a booklet called “Alternatives to Court in Northern Ireland”. The booklet (distributed freely in Courts, Citizens Advice Bureaus; solicitors’ offices, libraries etc. across Northern Ireland) attempted to show members of the public that there are other ways of dealing with many types of legal disputes, how these alternatives to court might work and when it is appropriate to use them. It also included a detailed directory of dispute resolution services available in NI appropriately organised by specific types of disputes. The clear benefits that ADR process can have over litigation notwithstanding (less adversarial, speed, privacy, and cost effectiveness), the anecdotal evidence suggests that the knowledge and uptake of ADR remains low among the public while the reticence to engage with it remains relatively high in the legal profession. This paper will suggest ways in which ADR may be better promoted.