ADR giant jams sets out stall in London; Europe, Asia next

Jams, the largest private provider of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) services in the world, is to open in ­London.

The US-based organisation is currently in the final stages of completing a new strategic plan launched early in 2008. The details are yet to be thrashed out, but the decision to start rolling out the Jams brand internationally has already been taken.

“We haven’t totally finalised the how or the where, but we’ve made the decision that we’ll do something,” says Jams executive vice-president and general counsel Jay Welsh. “We’ve decided we’ll most likely increase our presence across Europe and Asia over the next year or so – and London’s obviously a place we feel we need to be.”

Jams provides both mediation and arbitration services and is the world’s largest provider of the former “by a factor of 10”, according to Walsh. It is also the world’s second-largest provider of arbitration services (the first is US organisation AAA).

Jams was founded in California in 1979 and launched in New York in 1991. According to Welsh the business now sees around 50,000 lawyers file through the doors of its 20 US offices each year and it handles some 10,000-11,000 cases annually.

“We’re trying to figure out how the Jams brand can be brought to Europe and East Asia in an intelligent way,” says Welsh. “We’re clearly looking to open ADR centres in Europe.”

Welsh argues that the opening of a London office, and at least two more in other European cities by the end of 2009, does not necessarily present a threat to established UK ADR businesses such as the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR). Relations are cordial, he says.

Next month a team of Jams executives, including Welsh, will meet with representatives of CEDR, including chief executive Karl Mackie, to talk about the possibility of working together or signing formal collaboration agreements.

Meanwhile, Jams has already ramped up its UK presence with the hire of Humphrey Lloyd QC, a former High Court judge, who joined Jams’ global engineering and construction group last week.