Well done everyone, you’ve nearly made it to the end of this extraordinary year. A big thank you to our monthly editors and all contributors for keeping up the ADRRN presence throughout a year of considerable challenges. Thank you to all our readers, who have maintained a sustained interest and visited this site over 25,000 times during 2020.

Image by Susan Cipriano from Pixabay.

Here’s a summary of our posts since January 2020.

Dispute Resolution and Crisis

Olivia Rundle’s post in late January 2020 responded to the catastrophic bushfires and floods sweeping across the Australian continent. It overviewed some of the kinds of disputes likely to arise, and mechanisms available for responding to them. Resolving disputes following catastrophic events remained relevant as catastrophe rolled out over the globe for the remainder of the year.

In April, Professor Rachael Field organised daily posts titled Lockdown Dispute Resolution 101, designed to offer dispute resolution tips and strategies for effective communication, negotiation and the resolution of disputes while in lockdown. If you visit our April posts you will find 25 Lockdown Dispute Resolution 101 offerings. Also that month, Professor Laurence Boulle shared his reflections upon the disruption to dispute resolution habits of time and space in a post COVID19 world. John Woodward shared his observations about the successful adoption of collaborative negotiation strategies by some governments and parliaments, to respond to the COVID19 pandemic. John concluded that ‘those nations which have embarked on more focused and integrative methods of resolving the crisis have enjoyed greater success in meeting the challenge, reducing the uncontrolled spread of the disease and saving lives.’

Online Opportunities

Joanne Law explored her ideas about the Benefits of Technology Assisted Training in Dispute Resolution. Mehak Bagga considered the issues arising around use of Artificial Intelligence in Mediation. Vivi Tan asserted in Do consumers and businesses want the benefits of rule of law without the costs of rule of law? that a theoretically grounded framework is needed to analyse the suitability of ODR systems.

In March the dates and location for the 2021 National Mediation Conference (NMC 2021) were announced, and it has subsequently been announced that the conference will be blended, to facilitate online attendance for those who do not travel. It is a great honour that the Desert Knowledge Precinct Partners (Centre for Appropriate Technology, Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education, Desert Knowledge Australia and the Desert Peoples Centre) have issued an invitation to the dispute resolution community to hold NMC 2021 at their facilities in Alice Springs. Laurence Boulle, Chair of the NMC acknowledged on behalf of the NMC Committee and dispute resolution community the Western Aranda and Central Arrernte peoples of the Alice Springs region, and all First Nations people upon whose land we live and work, and their connection to land, waters and culture.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Dispute Resolution Wisdom

Margaret Castles reported in July about her partnership with the Mobile Language Team at Adelaide University to provide focused Aboriginal cultural awareness training for law students, in both client interviewing, and in ADR theory and practice. Margaret’s report her heightened awareness of the influence that her  Euro-centric upbringing, education and legal training has on teaching and mediation practice. Margaret’s post reminds us that indigenous scholarship, partnership and deliberate effort to de-colonise our thinking will enhance and improve dispute resolution research, practice and teaching.

John Lidbetter shared his Learning from our First People – Using Yarning to Resolve Conflict.

Dispute Resolution Research – Theories and Methods

Rachael Field and Jon Crowe announced the release of their book Mediation Ethics: From Theory to Practice in June, which focuses in particular upon empowerment and self-determination as appropriate foundations for mediation ethics. They claim that there is a need for a new paradigm of mediation ethics, away from the traditional focus upon impartiality and neutrality. Paul Kirkwood’s review of the new book was posted here in November.

Svetlana German called for mediators to participate in her empirical research about mediator’s perspectives of neutrality, which will provide an evidence base for practitioner’s perspective of and use of the concept.

Amy J Cohen shared her thinking about integrative bargaining, another foundational dispute resolution concept, in particular how the meaning of integration has changed with capitalism. Amy linked to her full post on the Law and Political Economy blog titled A Labor Theory of Negotiation: From Integration to Value Creation. Amy argues for revisiting negotiation theory, which has a more radical history than commonly understood, and through this radical lens we might find more value creation opportunities.

Claire Holland and Rikki Mawad proposed some improvements to traditional methods of conflict mapping, to take better account of multidisciplinary knowledge, and the practitioner and the process.

Research methods were discussed in a number of our posts in 2020. Alysoun Boyle dedicated November’s blog posts to some thoughtful ideas about dispute resolution research. She started with naming up some of the key knowledge gaps and resource constraints. Next was a suggestion that collaborative research networks include a range of stakeholders and people from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines. Her final post introduced some collaborative and innovative research approaches that might be adopted in the dispute resolution space. Rosemary Howell commented upon the GPC North America Report.

Disputant Perspectives

Charlie Irvine contributed What do ‘lay’ people know about Justice? Charlie’s findings are fascinating, including the following:

What makes mediation challenging and interesting is that, at least at the low-value end of the justice system, it provides people with the opportunity to determine not only the outcomes to their disputes, but the criteria by which those outcomes are evaluated.  It turns out those criteria amount to more than simple self-interest and include a strong urge to be seen as a fair person.

The diversity of personal characteristics of disputants was highlighted in Danielle Hutchinson and David Hutchinson’s post where they explored neurodiversity and how dispute resolution practitioners need to be informed in order to practise in an inclusive way. Inclusive practice and dispute resolution’s need to respond more appropriately to culture diversity was the focus of Zaynab Gul’s post.

Margaret Castles considered human motivations for retribution and punishment through her analysis of the series Game of Thrones. Her post was ‘prompted by the idea that the millions of modern day viewers rejoicing at the often brutal but seemingly fitting retribution that some truly reprehensible characters suffered in Game of Thrones, are the very same people that we see in facilitative ADR processes – in other words, us.’

Particular dispute resolution contexts


Ben Haward has brought his arbitration expertise to this network and made several posts in 2020. His post about What makes good arbitration law? The Australian experience launched our January presence. He introduced himself to us all in February and in June posted about International Commercial Arbitration, its application of law and flexibility of process, Challenges and Opportunities for Asia-Pacific International Arbitration, Of Dry Cleaning, Arbitration and International Commercial Courts. Ben returned in October and asked Does Choice of Dispute Resolution Method Affect the Application of the Law? This post looks at one instance where substantive law and choice of dispute resolution method may collide – the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods.

Sharifah Syed-Ronan’s vlog about International Commercial Arbitration in Indonesia and Australia was featured in December.

Institutional dispute resolution

Louis Benjamin’s vlog considered the extent to which needs of vulnerable users of court-connected mediation are accommodated within the justice system. Joshua Facchin questioned whether pre-action protocols are really as inconvenient as some make them out to be. Alan Limbury queried whether the COVID19 pandemic provided an opportunity for UK courts to reconsider their lack of willingness to compel litigants to attempt mediation, when he asked Could COVID19 see the end of Halsey? 2019 Roundtable papers included Nussen Ainsworth and Svetlana German’s NMAS and the distinction between process and substance in court-connected mediations. Nussen Ainsworth explored court-connected mediation at VCAT.

Dominique Allen raised some of the problems around sexual harrassment claims and presented her findings from interviews with lawyers about how those claims tend to be managed. Her concerns about confidentiality of dispute resolution in discrimination claims was elaborated further in Striking the Right Balance between Maintaining Confidentiality and Educating the Community about Discrimination. Peta Spyrou introduced us to her research that empirically examines disability discrimination complaints in relation to the protected area of education. It reviews settlement attempts under the different ADR processes in three Australian jurisdictions: SA, Victoria and, SA students who have made complaints to the Australian Human Rights Commission. This data will then be compared with publicly available judicial decisions.

Claire Scollay summarised some of her findings about socio-demographic, crash, injury, and recovery factors that are linked to legal service use among people who claim compensation for road traffic injuries.

Tina Hoyer and Claire Holland made a case for case coaching to be adopted as a core part of the Australian Tax Office’s ordinary business practice.

Mary Riley explored the Potential cost of failing to heal Civilian-Police Relations.

Laurence Boulle’s reflections upon former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s autobiography observed the application of dispute resolution related factors of prevention, interests, rights and power in politics, and suggested that examining negotiation in politics is a source of learning for dispute resolution professionals (although political antics are not necessarily a good role model).

Family Dispute Resolution (FDR)

Nussen Ainsworth, Lisa Zeleznikow and John Zeleznikow explored readiness and ripeness in FDR, Paul Gaddens considered the role of Evaluative mediation in Family Law financial cases, and Mark Dickinson raised questions about the Assessment of Suitability in FDR. A post from Mollie considered the importance of providing culturally sensitive and appropriate FDR for CALD families.

Lawyers and dispute resolution

John Woodward shared his thoughts about legal culture and collaborative dispute resolution in his Mind Half Closed post. Alperhan Babacan and Oz Susler made the case for greater commitment to ADR teaching in law schools. Hope Cooper provocatively asked why (some) lawyers deceive in negotiation, citing evidence that most negotiators engage in some kind of deceptive tactics.

Thank you for joining in with the Australasian Dispute Resolution Network in 2020. We look forward to engaging with you in 2021. The ADRRN Research Roundtable and Civil Justice Research Conference will be conducted jointly on 1 & 2 February in Newcastle, NSW, Australia and online.

This entry was posted in Dispute resolution by Dr Olivia Rundle. Bookmark the permalink.

About Dr Olivia Rundle

Dr Rundle is a senior lecturer at the Faculty of Law, University of Tasmania. She has worked as a nationally accredited mediator and a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner. Dr Rundle is especially interested in the role of lawyers in dispute resolution processes and the policy environment that positively encourages lawyers to engage with dispute resolution. She teaches and researches in broad areas of Dispute Resolution, Civil Procedure and Family Law.

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