Prevent or resolve a dispute
About the dispute prevention and resolution (DPR) processes
Dispute prevention and resolution DPR processes offer a way to prevent or resolve a misunderstanding, problem, dispute or conflict.
The processes are voluntary, and the parties must opt for a specific process by mutual agreement.
The various processes are generally based on cooperation and participation by the parties, in order to find a solution that is satisfactory for all.
DPR processes take into account all aspects of the dispute, including the needs and interests of the parties (self-esteem, security, relations, fairness, cost, etc.), in the search for a solution.
DPR processes may include an agreement reached between the parties without the involvement of any other person, through negotiation.
DPR may also be guided by an impartial person who helps the parties reach an agreement. Several approaches involving the presence of another person may be used, such as
It is important to note that, beginning on January 1, 2016, the parties are required to consider private dispute prevention and resolution processes before referring their case to the courts.
Who can use the processes?
DPR processes can be used by any natural person or legal person that wishes to settle a dispute without going to court.
The person can be acting as an individual or on behalf of a company, private or public body or community organization.
When can the processes be used?
DPR processes can be used:
- when there is no intention of referring a dispute to the courts;
- before a dispute is referred to the courts, in good faith, in a final attempt to reach an agreement;
- during court proceedings.
DPR processes may apply in a range of situations, including:
- relations between neighbours (co-ownership, property lines, etc.);
- family relations* (separation, child custody, succession, etc.);
- labour relations (human resource management, union activities, etc.);
- business relations (intellectual ownership, activities by shareholders or suppliers, etc.);
- commercial relations (goods and services, construction work, etc.);
- relations with public bodies (complaints, requests for a review of a decision, etc.).
*The law prohibits family arbitration in Québec.
Why use a DPR process?
A DPR process can help the parties achieve:
- shared costs: the costs of certain DPR processes can be shared between the parties;
- speed: DPR processes can lead to an agreement in a few hours or days;
- an adapted solution: the parties can find a solution that is adapted to their specific problem, and determine the solution themselves;
- a mutually satisfactory and sustainable agreement: the parties can agree on a solution that is mutually satisfactory. It is generally easier to apply the terms of an agreement to which both parties have consented;
- ongoing relations: DPR processes generally promote ongoing relations between the parties before, during and after the process is applied;
- flexibility: some processes can be adapted to the match the parties' schedules and location. The timetable (frequency and duration of meetings, etc.) can also be adapted to their needs;
- proportional costs: the cost of certain DPR processes must, in theory, be proportional to the issues in dispute. For example, the cost of reaching an out-of-court settlement must be proportional to the disputed amount;
- confidentiality: the information provided during certain DPR processes remains confidential.
Beginning the process
A dialogue between the parties is the first step to consider, wherever possible, in a DPR process. Next, the parties can agree verbally or in writing that they intend to use a DPR process.
More formally, one party can suggest the use of a DPR process in a formal notice to the other party, or in a response to a summons. A clause in a contract requiring the use of a DPR process may also be the starting point for applying the process.
Parties wishing to use a DPR process may obtain more information from legal professionals and from private, public and community organizations that offer a range of information services. For example, local justice centres in Québec offer support for citizens required to consider DPR processes before taking their case to the courts.
Last update: August 3, 2023