What is Adjudication? Understanding the Process

What is Adjudication

Adjudication is when a court judge resolves the issues between two or more parties. When you start a lawsuit, whether from criminal law or constitutional law, you hope to have a final solution to the issue at the core of the dispute. Within the legal system, there are a few ways to approach this final determination, from winding the legal case through the court system and up to the high court to an arbitration hearing to a negotiation room with two parties bringing creative and helpful ideas.

Along the way to resolving the claims, smaller issues and questions require legal reasoning to be determined. This is where the adjudication process may step in to help determine the claim and allow the parties involved to move forward with an answer to their question. This article will examine the adjudication process, including outlining what it is, how it is used, and what to expect.

Defining Adjudication

We need to begin with a definition of adjudication because it is central to the described process. Adjudicating a claim determines the outcome of an issue in dispute. It can be called a judgment, a determination, a decree, or many other names that put the parties on notice of their rights and obligations under the law on a specific issue. It will tell all the parties how they are to act moving forward. In the United States, a case must be “ripe for adjudication” to warrant judicial intervention, meaning that there has to be a dispute to be decided before a judge may get involved.

Typically, these are final, meaning that they will not be changed unless an appeal is successful; however, adjudications may also include resolutions that judges may adjust or vacate later on. Adjudication can also happen outside of the official legal process and litigation, such as the resolution of a claim brought by an insured person by the insurance company.

It is important to note here that adjudication is defined as a specific process in some countries. Canada and other countries have an adjudication process for disputes arising out of a construction contract. This process is similar to arbitration in that an independent third party, like an arbitrator, determines the case’s outcome. This article will focus on the more broad definition of the adjudication process.

Common Disputes Submitted to the Adjudication Process

Because the adjudication process is so all-encompassing, there are many circumstances where an adjudicative process may be helpful to resolve a case. Someone may bring claims against private parties for debt payment, and the adjudicator will establish whether there is a duty to make those payments. A former client may ask an arbitrator to issue an award stating that they do not need to pay attorney fees to their attorney. Nearly any dispute may lend itself to be adjudicated.

The Legal Process for Adjudication

To further demonstrate how to use the adjudication process to your benefit, understanding a typical adjudication process can be helpful. This process is outlined below.

Identifying the Interested Parties Involved

The first step in the process is to determine the opposing parties in the dispute. Sometimes, this will be easy because the parties are already engaged in litigation. However, in some cases, more interested parties may not be identified immediately, so their role will need to be determined. The interested parties may be private or government entities, such as public officials and public bodies, or any combination of public and private entities.

Starting the Process

Once the parties are established, they decide how they want to engage with the legal process. They may choose to pursue litigation on the issue at hand, or they may pursue alternative dispute resolution procedures. Sometimes, the claimant must file a complaint with the courts for judicial intervention. In others, they may need to notify the other party of their intent to pursue adjudication on the issue at hand. Each procedure will have a prescribed way for the claimant or the person bringing the suit to notify the other party about the adjudication.

Selecting an Adjudicator

If the dispute will be heard outside of the courts, the parties may have the opportunity to select the adjudicator. An adjudicator is anyone to whom the parties give the right to create a determination or judgment to resolve the dispute. They will hear evidence and decide how to direct the parties to act.


Once a case has been filed or an adjudicator has been selected, a hearing will likely be scheduled between the parties. Notice of this hearing and the date will need to be provided to all the people who need to be present. This can be done through service if the dispute is heard by the courts or through communication from the adjudicator if arbitration or another form of conflict resolution is used.

Presenting Evidence

On the hearing date, each party will have a chance to present their claims to the adjudicator, whether a judge in court or an arbitrator in arbitration. The adjudicator will listen closely to the evidence presented and ensure that each party can fully contribute and state the issues they bring for adjudication.

A Final Decision

After the evidence has been presented, adjudications are concluded by the adjudicator’s determination. This can be a judgment handed down by a judge in court or an arbitration award. Once the adjudication is complete, everyone will have an answer to apply to the situation and a place to appeal if necessary.


Adjudication helps resolve disputes and ensures that each party can be heard, whether by a judge in court or another form of adjudication. If an adjudication clarifies an issue or outlines the issues for the people involved, it can lead to faster court results. Regardless of how it is used, the adjudication process creates resolution in even the toughest of cases, giving everyone the resolution they need.

To learn more about what adjudication is, arbitration, and alternative dispute resolution, contact ADR Times today!

Emily Holland
Latest posts by Emily Holland (see all)
error: ADR Times content is protected.