Some call it Appropriate Dispute Resolution. Others call it Amicable Dispute Resolution. Still others, who believe that its origin is firmly rooted in Africa, call it African Dispute Resolution. Whatever you may wish to call it, the fact remains that there is a crying need to supplement litigation through more peaceful and user-friendly options for resolving disputes, litigation being formal and very technical because court procedure is inflexible. This greatly reduces the ability of parties to participate directly in the resolution of their disputes. The time taken to obtain a decision is often measured in years. It is therefore expensive and time consuming. In fact, the value of many disputes is usually exceeded by the eventual cost and time of the resolution. The adversarial process leaves wounds, which damage, and even destroy relationships. It is an open secret that the adversarial process usually leaves the parties exhausted, embittered and often impoverished. Litigation is suited mainly for criminal, constitutional and other rights-based issues.
ADR as a term covers the whole range of alternatives to litigation or arbitration, which involve third-party intervention to assist resolution of disputes. In some cases, arbitration is also referred to as part of ADR. It was, of course, the first well-developed alternative to litigation.