Dispute resolution services
Here is an overview of the Dispute Resolution services available in New Zealand.
If you have a private, commercial, family and relationship dispute, NZDRC can help. Feel free to contact us if you are unsure of which process is best for your situation.
Negotiation is the primary method of dispute resolution used by parties in conflict to resolve disputes.
Negotiation is an informal, infinitely flexible process whereby parties, or their representatives, bargain with each other for individual or collective advantage for the purpose of reaching an agreement on courses of action and/or for crafting an outcome that best meets their mutual interests.
Negotiation is the least formal and least expensive process for resolving disputes, but its efficacy is dependent on the parties’ ability to enter into meaningful and constructive dialogue in good faith without the assistance of a third party.
Negotiation should always be the first process utilised by a disputant to attempt to resolve disputes, but for obvious reasons, many parties are simply unable to disentangle and remove themselves sufficiently from their sense of grievance and the emotional stress, the detail and other drivers of the dispute, to negotiate effectively without the assistance of a third party.
Mediation is a consensual, confidential and relatively informal negotiation process in which parties to a dispute use the services of a skilled and independent third party called a mediator to assist them to define the issues in dispute, to develop and explore settlement options, to assess the implications of settlement options and to negotiate a mutually acceptable settlement of that dispute which meets their interests and needs.
Generally, any agreement reached will be recorded in writing and will be binding on the parties. Any party to such an agreement may enforce its terms by issuing court proceedings.
Mediation has the advantage of assisting in repairing and/or preserving business relationships where adversarial proceedings may not. Mediation is a particularly effective process in circumstances where there needs to be an ongoing relationship between the parties.
Conciliation is a process that is similar to mediation, and indeed the terms are often used interchangeably in New Zealand, however the real distinction lies in the more active role in the process that is played by the conciliator.
Unlike a mediator, a conciliator will often act as a conduit communicating information between the parties, acting as an information resource or expert, providing an opinion on the case and having an advisory, but not determinative role, in relation to identifying the issues, developing settlement options and assisting the parties reach an outcome.
Facilitation is a process in which a person who is acceptable to all members of a group, substantively neutral and who has no decision making powers or authority, intercedes to guide and help the group improve the way it identifies and solves problems and makes decisions.
Whereas mediation is a process in which the mediator serves as an intermediary between parties for the purpose of assisting them to find a resolution of their dispute that is acceptable to them, facilitation is a process designed to make group problem/conflict solving easier or more likely to occur by improving the members’ ability to deal directly with each other and to work together effectively.
The facilitator will guide much of the process that the members of the group use to work with one another so that the group can focus on the content. Contrary to a common misconception the facilitator is not a mediator, evaluator, or information resource. The facilitator will not provide opinion and will not convey preferences for any solutions the group considers.
The facilitator’s main role is to help the group improve its process for solving problems and making decisions so that it can achieve its goals and increase its overall effectiveness.
A group may seek facilitation because the members recognise that they do not have skills sufficient to manage the process of what is expected to be a difficult discussion, consultation process and/or to solve a substantive problem.
Facilitating large groups dealing with significant community and public policy/interest issues where there is a high level of energy and/or conflict is challenging and it is common for facilitators to work together as co-facilitators to better serve the same group.