Alternative Dispute Resolution is now common and various laws require a form of ADR prior to commencing court proceedings or for the courts to order a form of ADR before the trial. ADR involves a practitioner who is engaged by the parties to undertake a specified role to assist in the process to achieve an outcome.
Mediation is an ADR option and is described by the Australian National Mediator Accreditation System (NMAS) as a facilitative process “in which the participants, with the support of the mediator, identify issues, develop options, consider alternatives and make decisions about future actions and outcomes. The mediator acts as a third party to support participants to reach their own decision”. It can involve parties to engage in dialogue for apologies.
Restorative Justice practices have a special application where the emphasis is on relationships. It is achieved by bringing about a sense of the awareness of the harm caused to the relationship and promoting accountability and responsibility for the harm caused. The solution is focused on repairing the harm, and seeking to prevent further harm and heal relationships. The approach has the advantage of not seeking to blame, but address the “elephant in the room” by taking responsibility for the harm done and finding ways to restore a working relationship. Similarly, the process is designed to avoid court or to resolve conflict or court processes. Useful applications include employment conflict, culturally toxic workplaces (workplace conferencing), and collaborative family law practice.
Direct Personal Response is now an option under the National Redress Scheme for Institutional Child Sexual Abuse Act 2018 (Cth.) which commenced on 1 July 2018 and will operate until 1 July 2028. The legislation allows for DPR as a means of redress utilising Trauma Informed Care.
A DPR from an institution to a survivor of sexual abuse may involve one or more of the following:
a) an apology or a Statement of acknowledgement or regret;
(b) an acknowledgement of the impact of the abuse on the person;
(c) an assurance as to the steps the institution has taken, or will take, to prevent the abuse occurring again;
(d) an opportunity for the person to meet with a senior official of the institution.
The Sycamore Tree Project is an example of a more radical application of RJ practices. The Sycamore Tree Project involves prisoners meeting crime survivors on the journey of remorse, restitution and forgiveness. I volunteer for the STP in Queensland – Sycamore Voices. Listen and watch their stories.
Restorative Justice conferences are available through the Dispute Resolution Branch of the Queensland Government.
If you wish to:
maintain relationships whether personal, work or commercial;
avoid or reduce litigation or court processes;
avoid or reduce delay;
avoid or reduce legal and other costs;
avoid the risks of litigation and going to court;
comply with legislative or court requirements;
ADR / RJ / DPR practices might be suitable and inquiries are welcomed.
Subject to paragraphs 15, 17 and 24B of the Bar Association of Queensland Barristers’ Conduct Rules 2011 I accept direct briefs in relation to ADR processes and RJ practices.