Alternative Dispute Resolution

At Coulson Legal, in addition to global assessments, we encourage the following alternatives to the traditional avenue of assessment of costs.


Mediation is a confidential process where a neutral third person assists the parties to negotiate and reach a decision about their dispute. A mediator is not empowered to determine the rights of the parties, or to determine a winning party and a losing party. A mediator facilitates the resolution of the dispute by assisting the parties to find a “middle ground”.

Many of the courts encourage court-assisted mediations, and the success rate of those mediations is extremely high.


Expert Determination

Expert determination is a flexible alternative procedure for the resolution of costs disputes based on the decision of an unbiased independent third party: the expert. In some cases, the most effective way of resolving costs disputes is for the parties to agree to be bound by the decision of an independent expert.



Maria-Luisa Coulson is a graded Arbitrator and can be appointed jointly by parties in a costs dispute to determine the dispute.

The arbitration process, governed by the Commercial Arbitration Act, is the most formal of all alternative dispute resolution mechanisms. In many ways, the arbitration process mirrors that of a court however, the arbitrator is empowered with a broad discretion as to the manner in which the arbitration is to be conducted. Accordingly, an arbitrator may be able to determine a dispute within a very short period of time, and to deliver a binding award, which is enforceable through the courts.

Rights of appeal from the decision of an arbitrator are limited to circumstances where the arbitrator has erred at law, or is found to have infringed the rules governing the proper conduct of an arbitration.

Engaging us for Alternative Dispute Resolution

If you are considering proceeding to Mediation, Expert Determination or Arbitration, you should:

  1. Liaise with the other party in the dispute to obtain their agreement; and
  2. Contact Coulson Legal to make the necessary arrangements.

If Maria-Luisa Coulson is nominated to act as an independent expert, or as an arbitrator, the parties enter into an agreement that outlines the manner in which the determination or the arbitration will take place. Often it will be necessary for a preliminary conference to be held for directions to be made to enable an expeditious and cost effective resolution of the dispute, whilst giving effect to the principles of natural justice.

If Maria-Luisa is engaged in relation to any of the alternative dispute resolution options, it is important that all contact with her is undertaken in an appropriate manner including, ensuring that all correspondence to her is also copied to the other parties and/or their legal representatives.