The much publicised recent settlement between Eva Carneiro and Chelsea Football Club shows that even in the most serious cases and at the latest hour settlement is possible and may be the most appropriate method of disposing of a dispute.
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is a well established part of Dispute Resolution, whether the case has been issued at court or not. Two common reasons that are given by those reluctant to engage in ADR are that the issues are too important/complex to be resolved without an Order of the Court, or that the parties are too entrenched and the opportunity for settlement has passed.
The former Chelsea Football Club doctor brought a constructive dismissal claim against the football club, and a separate claim against the former manager. Dr Carneiro claimed that she was subject to sexual discrimination. The terms of the settlement remain confidential. However, from what has come to light by the claim, objectively the allegations were very serious as well as being subjectively very important to the parties concerned. Although efforts to settle had been made prior to the tribunal it would appear that settlement was arrived at “on the steps of the court”.
Whilst this was an employment tribunal case, it is a helpful reminder of the benefits of ADR in the context of general Civil Litigation and Dispute Resolution.
ADR has various forms ranging from informal negotiation to structured mediation with the assistance of a qualified mediator, and Early Neutral Determination to Arbitration where appropriate. Whilst litigation remains the ultimate determination by the courts of legal and factual disputes, the courts view it as the last resort. ADR is considered a cost effective and comparatively timely dispute resolution method. Courts do not order parties to engage in ADR, however by making use of their cost management powers they can in effect sanction parties for failure to consider and utilise it. These adverse costs can have the effect of making litigation more expensive to the client, even in a successfully pursued claim. Ignore ADR at your peril.
For further advice please contact our dispute resolution team.
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