Note

This beta website only covers alternative dispute resolution at the State Courts. For information from other courts, please refer to the Family Justice Courts website or Supreme Court website.

Alternative dispute resolution

A trial is not the only way to resolve a legal dispute.

The courts encourage you to explore alternative dispute resolution (ADR) options, which are often cheaper and faster than a trial. These include:

Mediation

A neutral third party guides you and the other party to find your own solution that meets both parties' concerns.

Conciliation

A neutral third party with expertise in the subject matter suggests possible solutions. You and the other party can decide how to come to an agreement based on these suggestions.

Neutral evaluation

A neutral third party with expertise in the subject matter provides an early assessment of your case and estimates the likelihood of success at trial.

Arbitration

A neutral third party will decide on an outcome after each party presents their case.

You may request for ADR or the courts may refer you and the other party for ADR.

Examples of cases that the courts may refer for ADR include:

  • Civil claims in the Magistrate's Court or District Court.
    • The referral may be made at the case management conference, pre-trial conference or summons for directions hearing.
  • Personal injury or non-injury motor accident (PIMA or NIMA) claims.
    • These will automatically be referred for neutral evaluation.
  • Complaints under the Community Disputes Resolution Act or Protection from Harassment Act.
  • Magistrate's Complaints.
    • These may be referred for mediation.

Compared to a trial, ADR can be:

Cheaper

ADR generally costs less than a trial.

For example, there are no costs for mediation, conciliation or neutral evaluation at the State Courts' Court Dispute Resolution Cluster (CDRC), except for District Court cases which generally cost $250 per party.

Faster

ADR can take as short as half a day. The duration may vary depending on the complexity of the case and the parties' attitudes.

Private and confidential

Discussions during ADR sessions remain private and confidential, while court hearings are usually open to the public.

Simpler and more flexible

ADR procedures are less complex and less formal than court hearings, which require parties to follow legal procedures and principles.

A way for you to decide the outcome

For most forms of ADR (except arbitration), you and the other party will decide how to settle your dispute.

During a trial, you give up control to a judge who will make a decision that you must follow.

Some ADR options (such as mediation and conciliation) may lead to win-win solutions for both parties and may help to maintain or improve relationships.

Understand the differences

Each ADR option addresses different needs. You should consider which factors are important to you and choose the option that meets your needs.

Note

Mediation is often the default ADR option for most cases as it addresses common concerns. However, if one party is not willing to mediate or if you have other concerns, other options may be more suitable for you instead.

Refer to this table for the differences between the ADR options:

 

Mediation

Conciliation

Neutral evaluation

Arbitration

Role of the third party

Guides parties to find a solution that meets their concerns

Guides parties and proposes solutions

Assesses the likelihood of success at trial

Decides on an outcome after each party presents their case

Cost

Low cost

(Example: most cases at the State Courts are free except for District Court cases, which generally cost $250)

Low cost

(Example: most cases at the State Courts are free except for District Court cases, which generally cost $250)

Lower than a trial, but higher than mediation

(Example: Most cases at the State Courts are free except for District Court cases, which generally cost $250. There may be other legal fees from your lawyer.)

Lower than a trial, but higher than mediation

Speed

Fast

Fast

Faster than a trial, but slower than mediation

Faster than a trial, but slower than mediation

Allows control over the outcome

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

You will know the merits of your case

No

No

Yes

Yes

Requires a lawyer

No

No

Yes

No

Offered by the court

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Find out more


Note: If you are interested in arbitration, you may contact organisations outside of the courts that offer arbitration. For example, the Law Society of Singapore provides arbitration services through the Law Society Arbitration Scheme.


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