Dispute Resolution is the process of resolving disputes between two (or more) parties.
A dispute can involve a variety of subject matters, such as contracts, professional negligence, boundary disputes, property disputes, commercial disputes, shareholder disputes, intellectual property disputes etc.
If disputes are not settled by negotiation, then they will either go to Court or be settled by one of various methods of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).
The first step in any dispute should always be to try to resolve the dispute by negotiation, which is usually done in correspondence. The Civil Procedure Rules require a formal Letter of Claim to be sent, setting out the basis of the claim and what you are seeking.
Dispute Resolution Solicitors should try to resolve disputes and help you as the party involved to resolve the dispute. A Litigation and Dispute Resolution Solicitor should advise you of your legal position, the strengths and weaknesses of your case and your options to settle the dispute.
Court is the ultimate in Dispute Resolution, but it results in one party winning and one party losing. It does, however, resolve disputes. It is also expensive and time-consuming. Therefore, other methods of dispute resolution have arisen. The main ones are mediation and arbitration/adjudication, but ADR also includes conciliation, negotiation, collaboration.
This post is not intended to be a comprehensive explanation of mediation. I have a fuller page on mediation here.
In short, a mediator is an independent neutral third party whose role is to facilitate negotiation and discussions between the two parties. A mediator does not make any decisions or impose any judgements. It is for the parties to reach a resolution to their dispute themselves.
An arbitrator is much like a Judge, in that he/she will make a decision and impose that decision on the parties.
It is typically quicker and cheaper than full Court proceedings, although not necessarily.
Arbitration is used often in building and construction disputes.