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School of Law

Alternative dispute resolution

Course Code:
Unit value:
Taught in:
Full Year

The aim of this course is to examine from a comparative perspective methods of resolving disputes other than by means of adjudication. Particular attention is given to the central processes of negotiation and mediation. In many jurisdictions around the world, entrenched approaches to dispute resolution are under re-examination, and students are therefore encouraged to develop a broad, cross-cultural view of the relevant issues. The course considers both the jurisprudential and practical dimensions of the problems addressed. 

There are two main parts to the course:

  1. The first examines general processes and principles of dispute resolution and civil justice reform, including debates surrounding informal justice and the role of courts, typologies of dispute process, negotiation, mediation, adjudication and its variant forms, mixed processes, and the role of lawyers in dispute resolution. 
  2. For the second part of the course, selected special areas of dispute resolution are examined: employment, family, international, and regional. 

The subject is examined by one three-hour paper and one course essay. 

Students who wish to read a key text in advance are advised to look at: 

ROBERTS, Simon and Michael, PALMER (2005) Dispute Processes: ADR and the Primary Forms of Decision Making, (second edition), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

The course is taught primarily as a mix of Lectures, Practical Exercises, and Seminars, and its specific learning outcomes include:

  1. Achieving a thorough grasp of the study of the primary forms of dispute process, from negotiation to mediation to developments in adjudication and mixed processes.
  2. Development of a solid understanding of interdisciplinary and comparative approaches to - and debates about - dispute resolution.
  3. Acquiring expertise in the skills and techniques necessary for effective dispute resolution.

More generally, this course enables students to understand and reflect critically on key theoretical and practical dimensions of dispute processes, including current debates on civil justice reform.

The course also enables students to adopt a comparative approach, drawing on the experiences of many societies and jurisdictions – in a large number of which, entrenched approaches to dispute handing are now under radical re-examination.
Balancing theoretical and practical concerns, the principal areas of discourse and practice that the student will come to understand are the processes of negotiation and mediation. The student will understand these processes in their own right and also in the context of the emergence of new types of dispute resolution professional, who offer mediation and other services as alternatives to the lawyer’s often preferred practice of late settlement through litigation.

Method of assessment

Assessment weighting: 70% unseen examination and 30% coursework (one 5,000 word essay). All coursework is resubmittable.