17 Apr

Improve your understanding of some effective alternatives to litigation

by William Hartnett, Q.C


What is the value of ADR?

Someone recently asked me what was my most meaningful perspective from more than forty years of practicing law – most of which were as a corporate lawyer with Imperial Oil Limited and ultimately as the company’s vice-president and general counsel.

My initial response was that there is still dissatisfaction with the status-quo litigation process in Canada for most cases because of excessive delays, inefficiency, high costs, and unpredictability. Furthermore, there continues to be stress, worry, and a diversion of attention and significant amounts of time from creative business activity.

However, about 20 years ago, I found that various alternatives to litigation could provide significant opportunities to resolve disputes much more quickly, at a much lower cost, and with better overall outcomes – that is, “faster, cheaper and better” outcomes. We refer to these alternatives, which include mediation and arbitration, as “alternative dispute resolution” – or ADR. I believe that my positive experiences with ADR, and those of other successful organizations, can serve as testimonials for other corporations and a broad range of other organizations – and for the law firms that serve them. 

The ADR Institute of Canada (ADRIC) is, in my view, the preeminent national organization in Canada which promotes cost-effective conflict resolution and alternatives to litigation. ADRIC is a non-profit organization, with an objective to promote and enhance the value of ADR – working together with regional affiliate “ADR institutes” across Canada.

Staying in the forefront of ADR awareness, knowledge and experience

We’re all busy in our professional lives – so how do we effectively keep up to date on important developments in dispute resolution?

One way is for your organization to sign-up as a corporate/organizational member of ADRIC – and/or for you to sign-up as an individual ADR Stakeholder.

ADRIC has had a sustaining corporate membership category for many years, with an annual membership fee, which provides opportunities for law firms, corporations and other organizations to continue to learn and to distinguish themselves in terms of expertise, leadership, and commitment to ADR. This membership category also enables the corporate representative to seek election as one of seven directors to the ADRIC board of directors – or to join ADRIC’s new corporate advisory board.

What’s new is that ADRIC is now offering an introductory, annual, no-cost, associate corporate membership to further increase the number of its corporate members so that more organizations – and individuals within organizations – will have an opportunity to learn more about ADR. Eligibility for this new membership category includes law firms, corporations, governments, educational institutions, and other organizations.

Both membership categories provide the following benefits:

  • Opportunities to stay in touch with developments and best practices in ADR.
  • Opportunities for individuals in a corporate member organization to become “ADR Stakeholders” with access to ADRIC’s ADR Perspectives e-publication, which focuses on issues and updates with ADR-party and ADR-lawyer perspectives. Follow the above link to see an inventory of the informative articles published over the past three years.
  • Invitations to ADRIC national and regional affiliate education sessions – to learn more about ADR and to meet and network with arbitrators and mediators, and to better understand the benefits of mediation, facilitation, workplace issue resolution, arbitration and other forms of conflict resolution.
  • Invitations to ADRIC annual conferences, with registration at member rates – with several conference streams to meet the needs of a broad cross-section of attendees.

Further, ADRIC will be inviting some associate corporate members to serve on its corporate advisory board – to ensure that it obtains a broad range of input with respect to how it can best meet the needs of its membership and promote ADR for the effective resolution of litigation and other disputes.

See ADRIC’s FAQ document which provides useful background information. Further links show the differences between the two categories of corporate membership for each of law firms and other organizations.

Individuals in organizations who do not choose to become ADRIC corporate members at this time may still sign-up as an ADR Stakeholder by following the ADR Stakeholder link.

I encourage you to improve your understanding of ADR so that you can achieve, as I have over the years, the resolution of litigation and other disputes much more quickly, at a much lower cost, and with better overall outcomes that would have been the case without using ADR.


William J. Hartnett, Q.C. was a founder and the president of the Canadian Foundation for Dispute Resolution, one of two organizations which joined together to become the ADR Institute of Canada in August 2000. He was a corporate lawyer for Imperial Oil Limited in Toronto and Calgary for over 36 years until his retirement in January 2017 as vice-president and general counsel.

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