1. People have a responsibility to take genuine steps to resolve or clarify disputes and should be supported to meet that responsibility.
2. Disputes should be resolved in the simplest and most cost effective way. Steps to resolve disputes including using ADR processes, wherever appropriate, should be made as early as possible and both before and throughout any court or tribunal proceedings.
3. People who attend a dispute resolution process should show their commitment to that process by listening to other views and by putting forward and considering options for resolution.
4. People in dispute should have access to, and seek out, information that enables them to choose suitable dispute resolution processes and informs them about what to expect from different processes and service providers.
5. People in dispute should aim to reach an agreement through dispute resolution processes. They should not be required or pressured to do so if they believe it would be unfair or unjust. If unable to resolve the dispute people should have access to courts and tribunals.
6. Effective, affordable and professional ADR services which meet acceptable standards should be readily available to people as a means of resolving their disputes.
7. Terms describing dispute resolution processes should be used consistently to enhance community understanding of, and confidence in, them.
On 14 September 2016, the ADR Advisory Council (NADRAC’s supercedent) noted in a published paper on their website that: ‘ADR is founded on ideas – it is intrinsically ideological. The ideas which underpin ADR are neither scientific nor inert – they comprise an unmistakeably value-laden set of principles’.
ADRAC went on to ask the following questions which continue to be relevant and challenging for the DR community in Australia.
Can the principles be combined to arrive at the following four core values:
1. personal responsibility – based on the ability to make informed choices
2. proportionality – between dispute and process
3. fairness and integrity – as to process (query as to outcome)
4. public confidence.
Are there core values missing from this list?
Is ADR essentially about the provision of a process which is fair, or an outcome which is fair, or both? And whose assessment of ‘fair’ is to be applied in any instance: is it to be evaluated from the perspective of the law, society, or the participants?
Please share your views!