Resources & Insights

Alternative Dispute Resolution

The court system in Ontario is currently experiencing a severe backlog in cases being processed. Delays are particularly long in both civil and family law proceedings, where getting a date to go to court for relatively straightforward matters can take up to, or even over, a year.

This backlog is the result of a number of culminating factors including an insufficient number of judges. As of May 2024, there were 19 judicial vacancies across Ontario.

So one may ask themself, is there another way to resolve both civil and family law disputes as opposed to being subjected to lengthy wait times in our courts?

Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) refers to different methods which individuals can employ in order to resolve disputes without the need for a trial, including both mediation and arbitration. These methods are often more efficient and just as effective as the traditional court process.

Mediation allows for the parties in a dispute to openly discuss and resolve issues in a more informal, cooperative, and efficient process. Mediators facilitate an open and respectful dialogue within a neutral environment outside of the procedure driven, and often adversarial, courtroom. This typically leads to mutually agreed-upon outcomes, particularly in the areas of family law, civil litigation, and estate mediation.

Mediation is in fact a mandatory step prior to trial in some jurisdictions across Ontario.

Arbitration is a process by which a skilled arbitrator, acting similarly to a judge, can decide on a resolution to a dispute based on the information provided by the parties. The process is private, flexible, and less formal than appearing before a trial judge, allowing for a more efficient process for solving a particular problem. Arbitration is typically used for commercial and contractual disputes, labour disputes, and spousal disputes.

Parties involved in arbitration can choose to have their lawyer accompany them or not.

There are many benefits to turning to alternative dispute resolution techniques, the primary one being that the dispute can be settled more quickly than it would be going through the court system. Mediation and arbitration are more efficient for the parties involved allowing them to obtain closure on their respective matters in months rather than years.   

By normalizing the use of alternative dispute resolution techniques, it allows for civil, family, and estate disputes to be resolved more quickly, easing the backlog in the court system and allowing for those cases that inevitably have to go to trial to move through the process in due time.

To find more information on alternative dispute resolution visit the website of Barriston’s sister company, Resolv’d Inc., which specializes in mediation, arbitration, and workplace investigation services.

Written by Jack Luck and Joshua Valler