Conflicts can arise from a variety of perceived injurious experiences. They occur as individuals or corporations with different interests, goals and perspectives seek to achieve a maximum share of the values which society provides. Conflicts, once they occur, are sometime difficult to resolve. There is, however, a wide range of dispute processing alternatives available in every society to deal with these conflicts. Society and culture tend to influence the kinds of dispute resolution mechanism used. Ethnic and religious groups have historically established their own systems for dispute resolution. The methods of resolution which have been developed had been many and varied, both formal and informal, public and private. They range from physical contests and economic warfare to a variety of more
social processes. The traditional formal method of dispute resolution is adjudication in courts using an adversarial approach in common law jurisdictions. Since the 1970s new processes which emphasise consensual, informal dispute resolution are being developed as alternatives and supplements to adjudication. These new informal processes bring a pragmatic problem-solving approach to the resolution of disputes. They rely to a greater or lesser degree on negotiation between the parties to achieve a permanent settlement. In a relatively short span of time, these alternative methods of resolving disputes have generated considerable interest, wide application and academic research first in the United States and now in Australia and also in the United Kingdom. Among other things, increasing concerns over costs, delays, loss of management time and long-term damage to commercial goodwill have encouraged the development of these new options for dispute resolution.
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