Queensland Law Society

Alternative dispute resolution

Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) includes a variety of methods outside of court proceedings, that can result in a binding agreement to resolve a legal problem. Methods include:

You may have the choice of more than one avenue, depending on the issue. Queensland Law Society (QLS) has developed a decision tree to show the flow of action for five different forms of ADR.

Once you have obtained general legal advice from your solicitor, they will be able to approach an appropriate ADR expert concerning your legal issue to discuss costs, venue, who will attend, documentation to be provided, pre-ADR meetings and availability.

Some less common but effective options to resolve disputes alternatively are:


If your legal issues revolve around discrimination in the workplace or relate to services, the best way to resolve the dispute may be conciliation. This process assists parties in identifying the disputed issues and discussing possible terms of settlement while receiving expert advice from the conciliator who does not act as a judge for the parties.

As with mediation, some courts and tribunals may require you to try conciliation before going to trial.

Collaborative law - negotiations without court involvement

Collaborative law involves both parties and their legal representatives specifically agreeing in writing to reach a settlement without resorting to litigation (a participation agreement is signed at the start of the process). The focus of all participants is to actively participate, negotiate and minimise conflict in order to avoid going to court.  Although collaborative law can be used for commercial areas, the primary purpose in Australia is to resolve family law matters. The legal representatives are required to remove themselves from the matter if the parties are unable to reach an agreement.