Alternative dispute resolution

The are a number of methods of dispute resolution. They range from negotiation and mediation to expert appraisal and arbitration. At the other extreme are tribunals and courts. The information below is largely about mediation. Mediation has been described as:-

"The process by which the participants together with the assistance of a neutral person or persons, systematically isolate disputed issues in order to develop options, consider alternatives and reach a consensual agreement that will accommodate their needs." (Mediation: A comprehensive guide to resolving conflict without litigation by Folberg & Taylor 1984)

There is a national mediation accredition scheme for the accredition of mediators administered by the Mediation Standards Board. Some mediatiors are registered as family dispute resolution dispute providers (FDRP).

Mediation will not be the answer for all conflict situations. Mediation may not be suitable where there has been violence, there is a big power imbalance, there are numerous parties or some other measures would be more appropriate. For instance in cases of workplace discrimination, bullying or harassment, the involvement of a facilitator, counselling and an education program might be more appropriate. Unfortunately, the employer's complaints procedure may jump to mediation as the next step after a complaint is made, possibly not understanding what mediation actually is or hoping that a one-off mediation will solve what could be a systemic problem in the workplace.

Law Society of NSW

The Law Society of NSW maintains a list of the mediators that are on their panel.
The Law Society also has mediation rooms for hire.
At the Law Society site there is information about mediation and mediation services.

Complaints about family dispute resolution (FDR) services

It is important that an independent body may investigate a complaint about FDR services if necessary. For solicitor mediators the Office of the Legal Services Commissioner NSW is the body responsible for the investigation of complaints about FDR services not the Law Society of NSW. The Legal Services Commission may be contacted by telephone (02) 9377 1800.

Farm debt mediation

Mediation under the Farm Debt Mediation Act 1994 is administered by the NSW Rural Assistance Authority.
On their site there is information about farm debt mediation and a farm debt mediation kit.

In 2019, the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry recommended that a national scheme of farm debt mediation (FDM) be enacted.

In December 2022 the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry published a better practice guide for farm debt mediation.

Mediation agreements

Mediation links

There is a great deal of information about mediation online. The following sites are just a few of them.

Mediator's toolkit

The following information is for mediators.