3 ADR Trends That Are Shaping the Industry in 2024

Posted by Kompass Professional Development on Jan 15, 2024 2:38:49 PM
Kompass Professional Development

Across the globe, several key factors have helped legitimize alternative dispute resolution (ADR) as an effective means of settling conflicts outside of court. 

The ever-rising expense of litigation is a main driver, along with hopelessly backlogged courts and the stress of drawn-out legal battles. 

As an industry, ADR is maturing and evolving at a rapid rate. Mediators and arbitrators are becoming increasingly sophisticated and specialized, tackling more complex cases, and developing more nuanced ADR techniques. 

What’s the next stage of growth for alternative dispute resolution? Here's a look at three major trends that are changing and shaping the ADR industry right now.


  1. Expanded Use of Technology in Dispute Resolution
  2. ADR Spreading Into New Contexts
  3. New Collaboration Between OAFM and FDRIO


ADR TREND #1: expanded use of technology in DISPUTE RESOLUTION

Online dispute resolution has been around for a long time. eBay, for instance, has been offering automated consumer dispute resolution for more than 15 years. But as artificial intelligence (AI) continues to advance, the use of such automated tools continues to grow.

For example, the Financial and Consumer Affairs Authority of Saskatchewan recently launched new online tools to help consumers and businesses settle conflicts. Parties can negotiate via an online platform and utilize an independent mediator when necessary.

“AI is providing an option for people to enter mediation in the least intrusive way,” says accredited family mediator Hayley MacPhail.

“Let’s say you and I were in conflict. In a computerized system, you would enter your position and I would enter mine, and the computer would spit out this number saying you are 10 per cent in agreement; would you like to revise your position? I can revise my position and you can do the same, and the computer will reassess if we’re any closer to settlement,” she explains.

“I think that’s hopeful because it gives people some control over their own destiny. And maybe they say, hey, you know what, even though it was a computer program, it certainly does help to try to work it out with the other person. Maybe we need to go to that next level and hire somebody. So I think AI is a great way to reach people.”

AI is also being used to summarize legislation, analyze data, and review and draft documents. But it does have limitations.

In June 2023, the Court of King’s Bench of Manitoba issued a practice direction on the use of artificial intelligence in court documents, citing concerns about the reliability and accuracy of AI-generated information.

And in August, the Silicon Valley Arbitration and Mediation Center, which focuses on tech-related disputes, published draft guidelines on the use of AI in arbitration. The guidelines explicitly state that “An arbitrator shall not delegate any part of their personal mandate to any AI tool. This principle shall particularly apply to the arbitrator’s decision-making function.”

AI chatbot image

Artificial intelligence is impacting the ADR field


ADR TREND #2: adr spreading into new contexts 

Mediation and arbitration are becoming more common across a wide range of settings.

"Anywhere there is a dispute, there can be arbitration,” says experienced arbitrator and Kompass instructor Andy Livingston.

“We are seeing arbitration being used in disputes involving seniors, healthcare, condominiums, and sports. Family and labour will always make up a significant portion of arbitration work, along with commercial. It gives citizens more access to justice.”

There’s also a growing push toward intergenerational mediation, which is sometimes known as elder mediation. Intergenerational mediation focuses on disputes among families, particularly older adults.

The Ontario Association for Family Mediation (OAFM) has been offering an Accredited Intergenerational Mediator (AccIM) designation for the past few years, and executive director Mary-Anne Popescu says it’s an area that’s ripe for growth.

"Intergenerational mediation has to grow because our population is aging,” Mary-Anne told us. “I’m really advocating to government for the support of intergenerational mediation within the healthcare system, within long-term care. I think this is an area that will grow.”

As more people and businesses become more aware of the benefits of ADR, the industry will continue to expand into new areas.

Unhappy mature father and son turned away from each other

Intergenerational mediation is set to rise 


ADR TREND #3: NEW collaboration between oafm and fdrio

In 2024, family mediators in Ontario have a more streamlined system for certification. OAFM and the Family Dispute Resolution Institute of Ontario (FDRIO) recently agreed to collaborate to end the confusion around having two separate designations at the provincial level.

OAFM still offers its Accredited Family Mediator (AccFM) designation. FDRIO no longer certifies family mediators, but it still accredits parenting coordinators and family arbitrators.

“For a long time in Ontario, we had two big bodies that were accrediting people for the same thing,” says Hayley. “Now, if you want to be an accredited family mediator, you would use OAFM. If you want to be an accredited parenting coordinator, you would go to FDRIO.

“I think it really helps our field to have each organization take over specific aspects. Aspiring mediators no longer have to pick and choose.”

Family mediators who already hold the FDRP Med designation from FDRIO can opt in with OAFM and be granted AccFM status. This needs to be done by the end of 2024.



Kompass Professional Development offers a variety of dispute resolution training programs, all delivered online:

Our certificate courses in mediation and arbitration are approved by the ADR Institute and qualify graduates to pursue professional designations through ADRIC. Plus, our family mediation certificate meets the educational requirements for the AccFM designation from OAFM.

Click below to explore courses, meet instructors, and learn more about becoming a certified dispute resolution professional. 

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Topics: arbitration, mediation

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