Litigation versus mediation

Bissets NL 2017

Litigation is the primary method of dispute resolution in the South African justice system. However, there are disadvantages attached to it, such as:

  • the adversarial nature of the process, which often leads to further conflict between the parties involved in the litigation;
  • the highly complex, costly and time-consuming nature of litigation; and
  • court rolls having become overburdened due to the rapidly increasing volume of litigation at court, resulting in long waiting periods before matters are heard at court.

As a result, alternative dispute resolution (ADR), which includes mediation, has become popular as a faster and potentially cheaper alternative to the process of litigation.

There are certain areas of law which make provision for mediation to be used as a way to resolve disputes between the parties. For instance, the Labour Relations Act (“LRA”) aims to provide simple procedures to resolve labour disputes through statutory (prescribed by law) conciliation, mediation and arbitration through the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (“CCMA”) or through accredited independent ADR services.

In practice, most disputes are resolved within a non-legal context by means of informal dispute resolution processes such as negotiation and mediation.

Depending on the nature of your dispute, mediation may assist you in resolving your matter amicably, speedily, and in a more cost-effective manner, as opposed to dragging your dispute through the lengthy process of litigation.

For more information regarding litigation and alternative dispute resolution, please contact:


Clint van Aswegen | Partner


Areas of Expertise: Commercial Litigation | Civil Litigation | Property Litigation | Employment Law | Insolvency Law


This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)