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Alternative Dispute Resolution

Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) offers dispute resolution processes as an alternative to going to court. If you are considering using ADR, the Law Society recommends that you consult a solicitor prior to doing so. Your solicitor will be able to advise you about the most appropriate dispute resolution procedure for your particular dispute.

Fees for alternative dispute resolution (current 3 May 2016)

Requests and referrals for Presidential appointment of an arbitrator, mediator, valuer, expert or independent solicitor will incur a non-refundable administration charge.

Click here for more information about the Law Society fees for ADR


Mediation is a means of resolving a dispute whereby a neutral person, the mediator, helps the disagreeing parties reach a resolution during a confidential, face-to-face meeting. The mediator helps the parties clarify the disputed issues and identify possible options but does not impose a decision. It is not the mediators function to give legal advice to the parties.

Mediation is useful when the parties are prepared to negotiate in good faith and work towards a mutually satisfying agreement.

Read about the Law Society Mediation Program.


Arbitration is a formal way of resolving a dispute in which the opposing parties present their case to an independent third person, the arbitrator. After hearing the opposing cases and evidence, the arbitrator then makes a determination. 

Arbitration is used in a number of areas, including:

  • Areas of law where the Government has legislated that disputes are to be or may be resolved by arbitration, for example, workers compensation claims and industrial disputes;
  • Commercial and contractual disputes where the contract or agreement specifies that arbitration be used to resolve any dispute arising under the contract or agreement; and
  • Commercial disputes of a domestic or international nature whereby, notwithstanding the absence of a prior obligation, the parties can agree to have their dispute arbitrated in circumstances where, unlike a Court, there will be no Appeal.

Expert Determination

Expert determination is an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process whereby an independent third party, with recognised expertise in the subject matter in dispute between the parties, assists the parties to find a resolution to their dispute.

This process avoids the parties having to go to a Court or Arbitration to have the dispute resolved.  Under the Expert Determination process, the Expert conducts the procedure in accordance with the designated rules and if there are no designated rules in accordance with the Law Society of New South Wales Rules for Expert Determination.  The Expert then makes a determination which is binding on the parties to the dispute.

The Law Society of New South Wales has developed Rules for Expert Determination to be used in the absence of designated rules.  If these Rules are nominated or invoked, the parties to the dispute will be deemed to have agreed to be bound by these Rules.
For more information, including a copy of the Expert Determination Agreement, download the Rules for Expert Determination here.

What does it cost?

Each party to the dispute must initially pay a non-refundable administration fee for the appointment of the expert.

Current fee

$165.00 (including GST) per party.

Appointment of an Independent Solicitor

Solicitors or parties may request the appointment by the President of the Law Society of an independent solicitor to act on the sale of former matrimonial property pursuant to the relevant Terms of Settlement or Consent Orders.  Such requests should be sent in writing, to the Law Society, and should attach a copy of the relevant orders and the Law Society's administration fee.

Nomination of Valuer

Clause 5.16 of Annexure B of the Law Society Lease allows the President of the Law Society to nominate a valuer to conduct a market rent review when parties are not able to agree upon a valuer themselves.  Where the property is a 'retail shop business' under Schedule 1 of the Retail Leases Act 1994, the President is not able to nominate a valuer.  Where the subject of the lease is a 'retail shop business', parties must contact the Consumer and Commercial Division of the NSW Civil & Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) to request the nomination of a specialist retail valuer.

Collaborative Law

Collaborative Law is designed to focus on resolution and minimise conflict. Parties to a dispute and their solicitors agree to make an attempt to reach a mutually acceptable settlement without going to court. 

Read more about collaborative law here.


  • The Law Society of New South Wales
  • 170 Phillip Street
  • Sydney NSW 2000
  • DX 362 Sydney
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution
  • T: (02) 9926 0396
  • E: ADR@lawsociety.com.au