The Future Development of ADR

AuthorAndrew J. Pirie
ProfessionFaculty of Law. University of Victoria
“And the whole earth was of one language.”
— Genesis 11:1, King James Version
Taking a broad view of alternative dispute resolution will not likely
lead to such a unilingual image but it can lead to the conclusion that all
peoples have an interest in the future development of ADR. For anyone
who will experience a dispute in the days ahead or come into contact
with conflict, the future shape of ADR will likely play a central role in
determining how the particular problem is experienced, processed and
resolved. Governments, organizations, and individuals — the whole
earth can be concerned with the disputing arrangements that the ADR
field will inspire.
Apart from such a widespread appeal, the future development of
ADR may be of most interest to those readers who see it in a different
light. For the ADR practitioners, legal professionals, academics, stu-
dents, and critics — many of whom are the leaders or future leaders in
this modern movement — the importance of ADR can extend well
1 H.H. Perritt Jr., “And The Whole Earth Was of One Language — A Broad View of
Dispute Resolution” (1983–84) 29 Vill. L. Rev. 1221.
beyond its personal benefits. For this group, ADR is a subject with
long-lasting appeal. Their exposure to ADR will have inspired changes
in outlooks and attitudes, in career paths and plans, and in practices
and beliefs. These individuals will have seen first-hand the positive
influences ADR can have on people’s lives or the concerns it can cause.
For the people and organizations that are already a part of ADR’s his-
tory, there will be a strong sense that it has something significant to
say. For them, its future development may be of ultimate import.
Where ADR is heading, what issues addressed, what challenges met,
what policies set, what changes made, or what status quo saved are
questions that merit close attention.
Of course, any discussion of what lies ahead in ADR must, to a
large extent, be general in nature. Whether ADR is narrow or broad,
mostly consensus-based or more broadly reframed, its future will
surely be more expansive in scope. This prediction appears indisput-
able even in a field where conflicts flourish. The future seems clearly
destined to be filled with more mandatory mediation, anxious on-line
negotiations, creative disputing designs, and increasingly complex
ADR laws requiring lawyers to advise and conference and research
agendas breaking new ground. Indeed, there is current law reform
research that now sees all conflict as a relational concept — the rela-
tionship between disputing parties having a large bearing on how dis-
putes are handled and a goal for civil and criminal disputes being a
transformation of these relationships between parties to the conflict.
relationships are at the core of all disputes in the future, the future
scope of ADR, a movement originally heralded as a way of preserving
continuing relationships, will surely be complete. There will be more
disputes of every imaginable shape and type to come under the ADR
purview, a transformed image of civil and criminal justice, and a need
for lawyers and others who are trained to work in these new milieus.
And, if the context of disputing — the where, who, what, when and
why — matters, the study of ADR in the future will bring so much
more into play. The diverse disputing details, the multidisciplinarity of
views, the broad goals and objectives, the practical skills and best prac-
tices — all parts of ADR now — seem only ready to grow. For such a
vast domain, general remarks are the only way, in such a short space,
to offer observations on future developments.
2 See the Discussion Paper “From Restorative Justice to Transformative Justice” of
the Law Commission of Canada at .

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