Shakespearean literature has been long commended by scholars for its incorporation of legal discourse into its plot structures that further paves way for interdisciplinary study of law. Practically all of Shakespearean texts are known to have tangential relation and relevance to legal practice but plays like “Merchant of Venice” have scenes that do not only depict a courtroom trial but also shed light on some key aspects and methods of dispute resolution that are arbitration, conciliation, negotiations and mediation.
“The merchant of Venice” is not only appreciated by literary enthusiasts but it has also generated great interest in Lawyers more than any other Shakespearean text, sparking profound commentary on the legal facets that are assessed academically. Before delving deep in to the legal themes entailed in the play, the substance of the prose will examine the definition of the term “Alternative Dispute Resolution” or ADR. Alternative Dispute Resolution refers to a repertoire of mechanism that can substitute court trials and largely entail discussions between the disputant parties.
These methods are also referred to as “out of court settlements”, whereby the parties involved in the dispute are encouraged to negotiate and find a solution to resolve their dispute. The ADR system is subdivided into the following categories that are negotiation, mediation and arbitration. The process of negotiation consists of dialogues between the disputant parties whereas, “arbitration” and “mediation” require the involvement of a third party to act as a mediator or conciliator in order to find a solution and make unbiased judgment in the matter. It is important to understand that the decisions in a dispute are non-binding if they are made through “mediation” and “negotiations”; it is largely contingent upon the willingness of the parties to establish a truce.
On the other hand, “arbitration” can either be binding or non-binding depending upon the nature of agreement with the third party. In a non-binding arbitration, the disputant parties may reject or accept the decision off their own accord but a binding arbitration is much like a judicial decision and requires compliance to the verdict whether or not it is approved by the parties. In the play “the merchant of Venice”, the dispute lies between a Christian merchant Antonio and a Jewish moneylender named Shylock. Before, the establishment of the bond between the two parties, there were extraneous variables that contributed to the exacerbation of the conflict that stemmed not only from religious differences, but other deep-seated grievances against each other as well.
Therefore, any form of negotiations or mediation seemed practically ineffective in seeking out a solution for their problem because their dispute went beyond Antonio’s inability to pay off the loan. Their earlier negotiations entitled Shylock to a pound of Antonio’s flesh in case he was unable to pay him back; Antonio’s calculation caused...