Academic Articles

Confidence in Alternative Dispute Resolution: Experience from Switzerland



Alternative Dispute Resolution plays a crucial role in the justice system of Switzerland. With the unified Swiss Code of Civil Procedure, it is required that each litigation session shall be preceded by an attempt at conciliation before a conciliation authority. However, there has been little research on conciliation authorities and the public's perception of the authorities. This paper looks at public confidence in conciliation authorities and provides results of a survey conducted with more than 3,400 participants. This study found that public confidence in Swiss conciliation authorities is generally high, exceeds the ratings for confidence in cantonal governments and parliaments, but is lower than confidence in courts.

Since the institutional models of the conciliation authorities (meaning the organization of the authorities and the selection of the conciliators) differ widely between the 26 Swiss cantons, the influence of the institutional models on public confidence is analyzed. Contrary to assumptions based on New Institutional-ism approaches, this study reports that the institutional models do not impact public confidence. Also, the relationship between a participation in an election of justices of the peace or conciliators and public confidence in these authorities is found to be at most very limited (and negative). Similar to common findings on courts, the results show that general contacts with conciliation authorities decrease public confidence in these institutions whereas a positive experience with a conciliation authority leads to more confidence.

The Study was completed as part of the research project 'Basic Research into Court Management in Switzerland', supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF). Christof Schwenkel is a PhD student at the University of Lucerne and a research associate and project manager at Interface Policy Studies. A first version of this article was presented at the 2013 European Group for Public Administration (EGPA) Annual Conference in Edinburgh.


MediationConciliation mechanismsSwitzerland
  • Year: 2014
  • Volume: 6 Issue: 1
  • Page/Article: 37-53
  • DOI: 10.18352/ijca.134
  • Published on 19 Jun 2014
  • Peer Reviewed