Alternative Dispute Resolution and Environmental Conflict: The Case for Law Reform


  • Elizabeth J. Swanson



The author examines the growing trend towards the use of alternative dispute resolution in environmental conflicts. She surveys the state of ADR-related legislation in Canada and makes a proposal for law reform in this field. Her first objective is to define commonly-used ADR terminology. She considers the question, "how does ADR fit into the law and environmental disputes?" The author then looks at the alternatives for ADR and environmental law reform. There are two conflicting sets of values here. The first is that institutionalization of ADR (through legislation) would provide a clear and concrete mechanism for enforcing agreements, and thereby level the playing field for all parties. The other viewpoint is that workable legislation may be impossible to draft and that the strength of ADR is its ad hoc nature. The author favours the "institutional," or legislative approach to ADR reform and development She then surveys existing legislation, which is of two types: "ADR-specific" and "ADR-inclusive." Following this critical review, the author makes specific recommendations for future ADR/environmental law reform initiatives.