Alternative to going to court
One would think that the majority of disputes would be resolved in court, but this is not the case. In fact, very few disputes get to that point because there are much less rigid, cheaper and faster ways to resolve them. Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is one of these means.
Negotiation, mediation and arbitration are among the tools available to individuals to resolve their disputes out of court. Negotiations can take place between both parties, with or without legal counsel, in a context of discussion to reach a compromise.
However, mediation involves calling on a mediator, an independent professional who is independent and external to the dispute, who will help both parties reach an agreement by suggesting a settlement. Since the mediator is not a judge, his or her conclusion does not have legal force, but is rather a proposal.
Lastly, arbitration involves an arbitrator, a neutral professional, who hears the parties and makes a final decision. Arbitration is a more formal process than negotiation and mediation.
Administrative tribunals run in parallel and are not part of the Canadian judicial system. However, they are an important resource when it comes to conflict resolution. Administrative tribunals are composed of professionals who specialize in the application of government laws and regulations. These include employment insurance, disability benefits, the fate of refugees, etc.
The judge of an administrative court does not have the powers of a judge of the formal court system. However, their decisions are rarely challenged by the court, because administrative court adjudicators are experts with in-depth knowledge of certain fields, which generalist judges do not have.