What alternatives to court are there?

What alternatives to court are there?

It is possible for you to handle your legal problem without going to court.

This guide will outline some options for dealing with it without legal proceedings.

Types of problems best suited to court

Although many problems can be resolved without attending court, on occasion going to court is the best or only option. For instance, if you are facing the prospect of losing your home, children, job or even being deported, you may need an immediate solution that only a court can provide.

Factors you should take into account when deciding how to deal with your legal problem

To help you decide how to deal with your legal problem, it may help to work backwards by determining the remedy you would like to obtain. For example, would you like:

  • An apology
  • An explanation for what happened to you
  • An undertaking that the incident will not happen to anyone else
  • A mistake corrected
  • A promise that a person or entity will not do something
  • A change in the behaviour of a person or entity
  • An item you own repaired or replaced
  • An order that an act is performed or ceased
  • Compensation.



It may be possible for you to sort your problem out informally by talking directly to the person or organisation you think is responsible for causing the problem.

A simple explanation coupled with reasonable suggestions as to how it can be resolved may present a way forward for agreement with, for example, your builder or neighbour.

If, however, you do not feel confident to do this independently, contact your local Citizens Advice, Law Centre or other independent legal advice centre for help.

Complaints procedures

Most firms, especially large ones, have a process in place to handle complaints.

This provides them with an opportunity to consider your problem in detail and try to sort things out with you. For help with writing a complaint letter, contact your local Citizens Advice or Law Centre.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

If your attempts at negotiation fail or your complaint did not get off the ground, you may want to consider alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods, such as:

  • Mediation
  • Conciliation
  • Arbitration
  • Ombudsmen schemes.


The court will encourage you to try ADR before going to court. It tends to be faster, cheaper and less stressful than legal proceedings.

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