Alternative dispute resolution (ADR)

When parties can’t find a solution to their dispute, it is tempting to go to courts.  Indeed, the judge will decide about the solution to the dispute and his solution can be enforced by the parties with the assistance of the Public Force if needed.  However, there are other ways.  One is the Alternative Dispute Resolution (also called arbitration, mediation, conciliation).

Generally speaking, arbitration means that the parties choose a third party, the arbitrator, to analyse the case and conclude with a solution.  In fact, there are usually 3 arbitrators, each party choosing his own and the two arbitrators chosen choose a third one.  Depending on what the parties want, the arbitration process can be binding upon the parties or not.

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) has its advantages as compared to a traditional courts procedure:

  • Parties can choose ADR processes or arbitrators that are competent in the matter at stake.
  • ADR is usually quicker than a traditional court.
  • ADR is usually less expensive than a traditional court.
  • ADR can be kept confidential between the parties where courts are usually public.
  • Arbitration usually does less damage to the relationship between the parties.

The European Union has developed ADR systems. This website lists also ADR bodies for Belgium.

In Belgium, a new service has been established in 2015 for any consumer problem.  You can find more info on this website.

Debt collection is also to be considered as an ADR as the essential feature of debt collection is to contact the defaulting party (the debtor) and understand why there is no payment, then find a way to solve the matter and get payment if the payment is due.  This way, debt collectors solve many problems out of court.  At TCM, less than one percent of the claims (debts) end up in court.


Updated 21/11/2016

Definitions provided under this section refer to the Belgian situation; unless specified otherwise. The texts are meant to summarize concepts in daily language and should not be considered as comprehensive or definite. We welcome suggestions for modifications or additions at