Dispute system design

This research was conducted by Chris Gill, Carol Brennan, Jane Williams, and Carolyn Hirst. It was funded by the Legal Ombudsman and investigated different models of ADR for designing effective complaint systems.

The research involved a case study design and fieldwork was conducted with ten organisations: four in the UK, one in Ireland, twoin New Zealand, one in Australia, one in Canada and one in the USA.The research highlighted a range of dispute resolution practices and illustrated some of the key design choices that ADR providers need to make when designing or reviewing a dispute resolution scheme.

These fell within four areas: the use of online dispute resolution; the early stages of dispute resolution processes; mediation approaches; and the later stages of dispute resolution and building influence.

The case studies suggest a range of design choices that are open to ADR bodies. For example, at the early stages of the dispute resolution process an important design choice might involve the extent to which caseworkers are constrained by strict procedures or, alternatively, given discretion to resolve cases in what they consider the most effective way.

Another design choice might relate to the use of mediation processes and whether these should be calibrated to allow for the resolution of high volume, low value claims or, alternatively, low volume, high value claims.

The conclusions to the report highlight these and other important design choices and propose a model for ADR design which sees design choices as residing along ten different spectra. Each spectrum illustrates a decision that designers or reviewers of ADR schemes will need to make.

In subsequent work we developed this model, as shown in the image below:

Further details on the model can be found below.