UCL Faculty of Laws


Alternative Dispute Resolution (LAWS0261)

This module introduces students to the principles and practice of alternative dispute resolution.

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It examines the various processes that collectively constitute Alternative Dispute Resolution. It particularly explores negotiation, mediation, online dispute resolution and dispute systems design. 

It provides experience in the value and limitations of adopting a ‘problem-solving’ approach to disputes. Students will gain an understanding of the dynamics of mediation and negotiation and the necessary skill of the mediator. Theoretical and skills-development is provided through seminars, practical exercises, the application of dispute systems design, and the writing of a substantial final assessment. 


The module is divided into four main parts. It first explores the nature of disputes and dispute resolution and examining issue of formal and injustice justice. It then explores two of the primary forms of alternative dispute resolution: negotiation and mediation. It looks at the process of both, exploring different approaches to both e.g., adversarial and principled negotiation, evaluative, facilitative and transformative mediation and the latter’s link to restorative justice. It also explores specific issues such as the ethics of mediation, and the psychology of negotiation. A practical mediation exercise is led by two CEDR mediation trainers. 

Having explored those issues, the course then looks at innovation in ADR. It does so by looking at the evolution of online dispute resolution, its processes and aims. It particularly focuses on this as, arguably, the fourth wave of the Access to Justice Movement and its effect on our formal civil justice systems. This leads to the final part of the module, where students focus on disputes systems design. This requires students to engage in both the theory and practice of the re-design of our dispute resolution systems. The practical aspect is achieved through students working together to design a future dispute resolution system to replace our current unplanned civil justice and ADR systems.

Recommended Materials

There is a wealth of material available concerning ADR, its principles, forms and practice. The following provide a good basis for understanding the issues:

  • Susskind, Open Courts and the Future of Justice (2020) 
  • Roberts & Palmer, Dispute Processes: ADR and the Primary Forms of Decision Making, (CUP, 2020) 
  • S Auerbach, Justice Without Law? Resolving Disputes without Lawyers, (OUP, 1984) 
  • Brown & Marriott, ADR: Principles and Practice, (Sweet & Maxwell, 2019) 
  • C Menkel-Meadow, Dispute Resolution: Beyond the Adversarial Model, (Aspen 2011) 
  • Sander, Varieties of Dispute Processing, Address Before the National Conference on the Causes of Popular Dissatisfaction with the Administration of Justice 70 F.R.D. 79 (1976) 

Module reading lists and other module materials will be provided via online module pages, available at the beginning of term once students have enrolled. 

Key information

Module details
Credit value:45 credits (450 learning hours)
Convenor:John Sorabji
Other Teachers:None
Teaching Delivery:20 x 2-hour weekly seminars
Who may enrol:Any UCL Master’s student
Must not be taken with:None
Qualifying module for:LLM in Litigation and Dispute Resolution
Practice Assessment:TBD
Final Assessment:6,000 Essay (100%)