Philippines and Alternative Dispute Resolution.

Within the Philippines litigation is becoming more common and there for more cases are being pressed into an already over burdened Judicial system, this has led to a trend where more contracts and being drafted in favour of Arbitration and other forms of dispute resolution.

In the United States and the United Kingdom Mediation cases have an average success rate of 85% with significantly reduced costs, all of this has led to an easing of pressure on the Judges and the Judicial System. This is a trend which the Philippines is following very closely and today within the Philippines Arbitration clauses and becoming an integral part of the majority of commercial transactions.

To help and support alternative disputes resolutions congress had enacted Republic Act N0. 9285, more commonly known as the Alternative Dispute Resolution Act of 2004 (ADR Act), which has pathed the way for no judicial avenues for dispute resolution within the Philippines. The ADR act superseded the Republic Act N0 876 and it Governs both domestic and international commercial Arbitration. It has adopted the 1985 UNCITRAL Model Law to complement the Philippines accession to the 1958 New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards.

To further drive the move towards alternative dispute resolution the Supreme Court issues Administrative Matter No. 076-11-08-SC, dated 1st September 2009 which is more commonly known as the Special Rules of Court on Alternative Dispute Resolution, this rule provides for the procedural guidelines for both domestic and international Arbitration, as well as the enforcement of Arbitration in the Philippines. Along with this the ADR Act established the Office for Alternative Dispute Resolution to promote and develop this within the Philippines.

This has given parties in the Philippines, for the first time, the choice on how they wish their case to be resolved, they can continue through traditional litigation, a very costly and time-consuming process, or they can choose to used alternative means to resolve the issue(s). And again, they are given a choice they may use the semi government agency, or they may prefer to use a more specialized approach by using a truly independent service, from an organization that only has vested interests in the development of the mediation and arbitration process, such organization normally offer a greater saving on costs and time.

The main advantage of these independent providers is their costs and normally lower and are able to hear cases sooner, this is their main business and therefore they are driven towards compliance with the highest standards.

Armstrong Dispute Resolution (ADR) is such an organization, they following the standards as prescribe by both the American Arbitration Association, the American Bar Association, the Law Society of England and the Bar Standard Board, regulatory body for UK Barristers. Within these guidelines fix time periods are permitted between each stage unless, specifically in Arbitration, the parties request more time and this request is granted. They have teams of staff dedicate to the process both ensuring the time constrains are meant and stewarding the arbitrators and mediators to ensure compliance with the highest ethically standards.

Another significant factor is the costs, private organization are normally more competitive in their pricing structure, at present if a party decides to use the government agency they have a min outlay of 200,000 PHP, this is made up of 75,000 PHP for filing, 100,000 for Arbitrators/mediators Fees, 25,000PHP for anticipated expenses. Within Armstrong Dispute Resolution the costs for Mediation start as low as 30,000 PHP, and it is anticipated this cost is shared between all parties, for Arbitration it is 55,000 PHP, these costs may well be part of the award given, if so requested.

One of the other main advantages of alternative dispute resolutions with organizations such as ADR is confidentiality, no details from any cases heard by ADR can be reported in a media, ADR have a very strict confidentially clauses which are always included in both mediation and arbitration cases.

At the end of the day the whole concept of Alternative Dispute Resolution is to help our clients, individuals and corporations, get the best possible solution to an issue(s). Not all cases with be right for mediation, however mediation does have an 85% success rate. Arbitration is the most common viable option to the Judicial process and only permits appeals when the Arbitrator has acted in a manner which is in breach of the standards, has acted demonstrated bias to one party or within the Philippines the ADR Act provides that the enforcement of an arbitral award may be refused if its issuance is against public policy, unfortunately the act its self is silent as the specific meaning of public policy.

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