The release of a report into alternative dispute resolution (ADR) has prompted the Federal Government to champion it as a method for settling disputes.
Last week (18 March) Attorney-General Robert McClelland released the National Alternative Dispute Resolution Advisory Council (NADRAC) report, Maintaining and Enhancing the Integrity of ADR Processes: From Principles to Practice Through People.
McClelland drafted the Terms of Reference for the report in December 2009 to determine whether any legislative changes were required to Australia's ADR system, in wake of its increasing use.
The report found that ways in which the conduct and integrity of ADR could be enhanced include the continued development of professional standards; further training and education for ADR practitioners; and the development of guidance materials.
"ADR is becoming an increasingly prominent feature of the way Australians access justice, and it is important to ensure the services that support them are consistent," McClelland said. "NADRAC's report will encourage greater use of ADR as an effective mechanism to resolve disputes."
The report specifically recommended the encouragement of "consensual" adherence to appropriate conduct standards, rather than through specific legislation, and recommended developing code of conduct standards, industry standards and community education as the best ways to do this.
The report also discussed issues around confidentiality, inadmissibility, immunity and conduct obligations of the relevant practitioners.
McClelland said that over 40 submissions from various parties were made in the preparation of the report.