Mandatory ADRThe case of Halsey v Milton Keynes General NHS Trust  raised the question as to the legality of mandatory ADR. It was opined that such compulsion could be an obstruction to a parties right of access to the court, contrary to Article 6 of the European Human Rights Convention. Yet, in the ongoing discussion for mandatory ADR, a July 2021 report published by the Civil Justice Council has concluded that compulsory ADR is not an obstruction to a party’s right of access to the court, and therefore not incompatible with Article 6. The report not only declared that it is lawful for ADR to be compelled on disputing parties but also discussed how the courts’ case-management powers will be able to exercise this compulsion, and how reforms may even go so far as to make it a procedural rule that ADR must be considered as a pre-condition to issuing a claim. While ADR is not yet mandatory and some judges continue to oppose its compulsion, this report signals a potentially monumental change for dispute resolution. It could have a remarkable effect on the court system of England and Wales which is currently overwhelmed and has been for some years, although many insist that any compulsion within legal proceedings “undermines the value of the adjudicative system” (Civil Justice Council, Compulsory ADR Report, June 2021). Diligent introduction and procedures for compulsory ADR are vital to relieve pressure on the courts and to further educate the public on how ADR is, and can be, a successful mechanism for resolving disputes outside the courtroom. A resolution reached with the agreement of the parties is generally preferable to a protracted legal dispute. Image: Alternative Dispute Resolution by Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 Alpha Stock Images
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