Laws to encourage people to take genuine steps to resolve disputes before going to court have been passed through parliament this week.
The proposed laws under the Civil Dispute Resolution Bill will require prospective litigants to lodge a statement with the court detailing what steps they have taken to resolve their dispute or, if they haven't, the reasons why.
"While most parties already attempt to resolve their disputes before litigating it's clear there are still some very costly and time consuming cases where this basic step has not occurred," said Attorney-General Robert McClelland.
"Early resolution of disputes is likely to be faster, less costly and less stressful than going to court. Even in instances where disputes can't be fully resolved, the attempt to do so may help to clarify and narrow the issues, resulting in shorter and more efficient court proceedings."
According to McClelland, the new laws do not prescribe particular steps that people must take but instead allow the parties involved to decide what commonsense steps are more appropriate in their circumstances.
The new bill implements key recommendations The Resolve to Resolve - Embracing ADR to improve access to justice in the federal jurisdiction, a report produced in 2009 by the National Alternative Dispute Resolution Advisory Council.