Glossary of terms

This glossary is provided by network members to develop understanding and to encourage the consistent use of dispute resolution terms.

A to C  E to R

A to C

Advisory opinion

An impartial person with legal expertise in the subject matter of the dispute undertakes an objective assessment of the relative strengths of the opposing positions in a dispute, including the probable outcome of the case if it were to proceed to trial or other adjudication.


A hearing is held before a mutually acceptable, impartial individual or panel of individuals who make a decision on the merits of a case, after hearing the presentation of evidence and oral argument. Arbitration may be binding or non-binding, voluntary or compulsory, formal or informal and may take place pursuant to the Arbitration Act (Alberta) or under an agreement between the parties.


An informal process in which an impartial individual facilitates communication, usually by conveying messages between parties who are unwilling to meet face-to-face, to identify common ground and to re-establish direct communication or negotiate an agreement between the parties without further contact.


Parties meet with an impartial individual to select a process or a series of processes to resolve a dispute.

E to R

Early neutral evaluation

A process in which parties present facts and legal arguments concerning the appropriate resolution of their case to each other and an impartial lawyer or expert in the substantive area of the dispute who gives an advisory opinion on the issues presented.

Judicial Dispute Resolution or JDR
Mini-trial, pre-trial or settlement conference)

A judge from the court agrees to hear submissions from lawyers with their clients on the facts and the law in an informal setting. The judge will discuss the issues with the participants and may give a non-binding advisory opinion on the legal merits of the case.


An impartial mediator assists the disputants to identify what is important to them, structures the discussions, facilitates communication among participants and provides an opportunity to resolve the matters in a way agreeable to all disputants.

Med Arb (Mediation/Arbitration)

A process beginning with mediation, which may evolve into arbitration if the parties are unable to reach agreement and agree to be bound by the decision of the mediator, who becomes the arbitrator.


An impartial individual with some expertise in the area of the matters in dispute discusses the issues with participants and evaluates the merits of a case by reviewing written materials, including contract documents, and undertaking site visits depending on the circumstances.