In the course of these processes, known as “conciliation” or “mediation” , the parties are invited to open or resume a dialogue and avoid confrontation; they themselves choose the technique for settling the dispute and play a particularly active role in endeavouring themselves to find the solution that suits them best. These methods provide an opportunity to go beyond the purely legal position and come to a personalised solution matching the real nature of the dispute. This consensus-based approach boosts the chances that once the parties have settled their dispute, they will be able to maintain normal business or personal relations.
In consumer disputes in particular, there are various forms of alternative dispute resolution in which the third party produces the solution.
The “consumer complaint boards” in the Scandinavian countries work in this way. A consumer who has taken a complaint to one of these boards can subsequently go to court if he is not satisfied with the proposed solution.
This is for example the case with the “ombudsman” set up in certain businesses such as banking and insurance. His decisions are binding on firms taking part in the scheme. If the consumer is not satisfied with the decision, he can take his case to court.
The decision, binding on both sides to the dispute, can be taken in accordance with rules of law (classical arbitration) or on an equitable basis (amicable arbitration). The arbitrator's award has the status of an enforceable decision, which means that the settled dispute basically cannot be taken to court. Arbitration is often regarded as not really being a form of alternative dispute resolution. There are instruments of Community and international law governing or encouraging alternative dispute resolution. For further information, click on “Community law” or “International law” .Top
Last update: 04-11-2009