ADR and access to justice

ADR and access to justice

Access to justice is not just access to a judicial system, but to a comprehensive, integrated and appropriate dispute resolution process.

The right of access to justice and the right to a fair trial are guaranteed by almost every state on earth, but somwhere these rights are routinely hampered in many countries by the sheer pressure on underfunded systems of justice, use of linear approach to adjudication systems even when resolution to disputes through other ways and conditions are favourable.

Effective access to justice is one of the fundamental conditions for the establishment of the rule of law.

Over the years, the right of access to judicial protection meant essentially and almost exclusively the aggrieved individual’s formal right to litigate or defend a claim, defined in strictly legal terms. Today we are gradually understanding a broader view of what is going on behind such claims, which characterizes ADR, and this opens new pathways to resolving disputes, relieving the overcrowding that makes court cases unnecessarily slow.

In particular, ADR processes are of significant importance to justice systems when effective establishment of alternative means of dispute resolution can significantly reduce the number of minor disputes before the civil courts, helping to improve the availability of judges for cases which must be tried. Moreover, an integrated approach to resolution of disputes also helps in reducing the timeline of litigation process.

More broadly, the smart integration of ADR will become a significant factor in instilling confidence in the legal framework as a whole, supporting and promoting the rule of law by way of encouraging the use of mediation and by ensuring a balanced relationship between mediation and judicial procedures. Securing better access to justice via ADR, as well as through other methods, is now part of the established policy of many developed governments, but there is still to do a lot.