New Zealand Law Society - Research spotlight on commercial mediation

Research spotlight on commercial mediation

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Key factors that influence people to use commercial mediation are avoiding the higher cost of litigation, speed and efficiency, confidentiality and desire to preserve relationships and reputation.

This is among the findings of just completed research on the use of commercial mediation in New Zealand. The research was conducted by Victoria University in partnership with LEADR & IAMA.

“Empirical data about the nature and use of commercial mediation in New Zealand is lacking, so this research moves us from anecdote to evidence,” says Dr Grant Morris, who led the project.

Of the mediators who responded to the survey, 98% reported a settlement rate of 80% or higher for their mediations.

The role of lawyers in referring disputes to mediators is key, the research also found. Referrals from lawyers is the most common way that disputes go to mediation. However respondents also commented on the reluctance of “gatekeepers” (mainly lawyers) to refer parties to mediation.

Mediators also reported few referrals from court, despite specific court rules allowing the referral of cases to mediation. The Ministry of Justice was unable to provide data on court referrals.

The research found some support for mandatory mediation, with over half of the respondents saying that commercial mediation should be mandatory in New Zealand in certain contexts.

This will be a topic of discussion at the LEADR & IAMA conference kon-gres 2015 in Auckland in September, with a panel of barristers, mediators and a High Court Judge all providing perspectives.

Victoria University and LEADR & IAMA hope to extend the research in this area with further work over the coming summer, in particular looking at the role of lawyers in referring disputes to mediation.

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