Explanations for some of the dispute resolution terms we commonly use

Consensual processes

These are processes where an independent person supports you to reach your own agreement

Facilitation is a great option to explore issues or agree actions early. An impartial facilitator hosts meetings effectively to help you share information and perspectives Their role is to help the people involved to communicate constructively. As someone neutral, they can keep discussions on track. They do note make decisions - rather they create a safe space where you can keep talking until you reach your own agreed solutions.

Mediation is a way to resolve a dispute collaboratively. An independent mediator helps you navigate challenging conversations. They create a safe environment to explore issues, to understand each other’s perspectives and develop options together. The mediator does not make decisions for you. Rather, their role is to keep you working together to find a solution and reach an agreement everyone can agree to. Mediation can also help you restore communication and repair relationships.

Conciliation is a way to resolve issues through conversation. It is a special type of mediation, where the conciliator will actively seek to find an agreed solution between all parties. A conciliator is usually a subject matter expert, which means they can offer suggestions to the parties on possible solutions and ways to settle the dispute if the parties would like them to.


Determinative processes

These are processes where an independent person makes a decision on the matter

Adjudication is a good option if you need someone independent to make a decision. An adjudicator is a trained expert who weighs up all the evidence in a dispute and makes a legally binding decision on the matter. Adjudication may also be a required process for parties under a statute or code – for example, under the Construction Contracts Act 2002 you can refer a dispute to be determined by an adjudicator.

Arbitration is similar to having a private judge, and is a more formal process than adjudication. Arbitration is where an independent person makes a decision on a dispute, governed by the Arbitration Act 1996. By agreement, you can decide on the process, timeframes and rules, with the assistance of the arbitrator. This confidential process may be used by agreement or may be mandatory as part of the terms of a contract. 
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