With court cases adding undue stress to an already unpleasant situation, It's important for all parties to know there is a far more effective method, alternative dispute resolution (ADR).

Business Companion has launched a free new Business in Focus guide on the use of ADR. The guide delves into ADR legislation, describes the processes and highlights the benefits for businesses and consumers in entering into ADR to resolve issues.

ADR is often far quicker and more cost-effective for businesses than having a case go to court. Both parties are put in contact with a neutral third party to help come to a quick, mutual agreement, usually within 90 days according to the European Commission.

The more private nature of the proceedings means businesses can also usually avoid any adverse publicity, and many courts now require businesses to have attempted to resolve disputes via ADR first. The Government estimate that ADR costs approximately one fifth of the costs of pursuing a court case, with 82% of businesses reporting they would use ADR again.

ADR providers are approved and audited by Competent Authorities, with the process being mandatory for some regulated sectors. Businesses that are members of trade associations, or ‘trusted trader' schemes, in unregulated sectors are also required to enter into ADR. The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) is a Competent Authority that approves ADR bodies in unregulated sectors.

Service Director Delivery Excellence at CTSI, Andy Allen, said: "It's an unfortunate fact that disputes will occur between traders and consumers, but ADR gives both parties greater access to mechanisms that make the whole process easier and fairer for all involved."

Business Companion is a free to use, Government-backed service provided by CTSI. It features in depth guidance for businesses on trading standards and consumer protection legislation. The ADR guidance, along with guides for care homes and online marketplaces, can be found here