Imbalances of Power in ADR: The Impact of Representation and Dispute Resolution Method on Case Outcomes

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In recent decades, alternative dispute resolution processes have gained worldwide recognition, a growing role in legal practice, and increasing academic attention. Despite their professed advantages, they have also faced fierce opposition. In a seminal article, Owen Fiss argued that ADR exacerbates imbalances of power between the parties. But while the theoretical argument has been widely developed, empirical evidence has remained scant. This article empirically examines the impact of representation patterns and dispute resolution methods on case outcomes. Arguably, professional representation of weaker parties may reduce the effects of inequality, whereas less formal, transparent, and adjudicatory processes may exacerbate them. The article focuses on small claims settlement conferences, using the Israeli labor courts system as a test case. The main findings are that representation increases the probability of a successful settlement conference, and that the more formal the process, the greater the ratio between the sum obtained by the plaintiff and the sum claimed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)791-823
Number of pages33
JournalLaw and Social Inquiry
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 American Bar Foundation.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences
  • Law


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