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Mediation to resolve disputes

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Where a consumer and lawyer need more support to resolve their dispute and reach a fair settlement, we offer mediation.

Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution process that supports negotiation, encourages compromise and resolves conflict in a neutral and confidential environment. 

At mediation, we bring you and your lawyer together to talk through your dispute with the support of one of our nationally accredited mediators. The service is free of charge and our mediators don’t take sides.  

Our mediators use their specialised skills and techniques to help you and your lawyer: 

  • put forward your points of view 
  • talk openly about your concerns 
  • identify and explore options for resolving your dispute 
  • negotiate an agreement that you can both accept.

Our mediators take a flexible approach to suit the dispute and best meet the needs of both parties. Throughout the process, you and your lawyer stay in control, with both parties having the opportunity to influence the outcome.

The key to a successful mediation is for both parties to engage in an open and honest discussion in a respectful way, to acknowledge each other’s perspectives, and to be genuinely open to resolving their dispute. 

Mediation usually takes two to three hours, and can be done in person or by videoconference.

We also use co-mediation, where two mediators help you and your lawyer reach a shared understanding. The different strengths, perspectives and backgrounds that two mediators bring can help create an even power balance, which is important in reaching a fair settlement. 

Restorative practices

In situations where a lawyer has caused you to experience harm, we can apply restorative practices during mediation, where appropriate. Through this process, we offer you the opportunity to explain to the lawyer the impact of their actions, and encourage the lawyer to be accountable. We then help both parties to identify ways to repair the harm, which may include the lawyer apologising, redoing work or undertaking training. 

For lawyers, restorative practices can discourage them from causing further harm. For consumers, it can demonstrate the lawyer’s respect for them, which can help to restore their faith and trust in the lawyer and the wider legal profession. Restorative practices can also help to repair the lawyer-client relationship. This is particularly important where it would be too complicated or costly for the consumer to take their legal matter to another lawyer.

Case study: using meditation to resolve a costs dispute

A consumer made a complaint to us about their lawyer poorly communicating $80,000 worth of legal costs for work on their family law matter. Even though the lawyer had met their obligations, the consumer felt that they hadn’t been clear about the costs involved. The consumer was feeling anxious about the dispute, having just gone through combative family law proceedings.  

Both parties accepted our offer to help resolve their dispute through mediation with one of our nationally accredited mediators.

The mediator reassured the consumer about the process, explaining that they would have regular breaks and the chance to have private discussions without the lawyer being present. This helped them to feel heard, understood and supported. 

The mediator was empathetic while staying neutral, and was effective in supporting meaningful discussion between the parties. In each party’s private sessions, the mediator helped identify and test practical solutions, and explained the risks if the dispute wasn’t resolved through mediation.

The mediator took a unique approach and brought their own perspectives to the mediation, helping to work through the issues faster.

The parties were close to agreeing but the consumer was unsure about committing. The mediator suggested a 24-hour break. This allowed the consumer time to consider the information they had been given throughout the mediation and be confident in their decision. 

The mediation was effective in creating a space for the consumer and lawyer to negotiate and agree to a fair settlement that benefitted both parties.

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