Consensual Collaborative Processors
The following services are used by parties willing to work together, when guided by an expert dispute resolver, to develop an agreed solution for their dispute, or difference.
These are the most informal and engaging dispute resolution processes available, but don’t assume they only work for small disputes – sensible collaboration can help parties to resolve disputes worth many millions of dollars – usually getting them out the other side with minimal scarring.
Negotiations are structured processes designed to explore needs, interests and possibilities as a basis for creating options for settlement that can be agreed by all parties. Negotiation is informal dispute resolution in its most flexible form.
We help individual or multiple parties to prepare for negotiations, and assist in making presentations and participating in discussions.
Facilitation is the next step up from Negotiation, where we’re engaged to facilitate part or all of the negotiation process, as independent third party neutrals, for parties who don’t consider themselves to be in dispute or conflict, but nevertheless recognise the need for skilled support to help them achieve mutually acceptable outcomes.
Mediation is a form of managed negotiation, with the mediator acting as the process expert and procedural manager. We think of mediation as “facilitation in a hostile environment”, where it’s recognised that the parties’ needs and interests are opposed.
There is a heavy responsibility on the mediator to maintain neutrality and to be “everyone’s friend and nobody’s advocate”. Subject to the terms of the engagement, the mediator can provide each party with impartial advice and opinions, delivered in private.
The process should end with an agreement, in writing, that covers all identified issues, and is witnessed by the mediator. It should be legally binding, as evidence of the parties’ intentions. If necessary (eg: in family law matters) the agreement may be formalised by lawyers.
We don’t do conciliations, because we regard them as nothing more than a directive style of mediation where the mediator is expected to give orders and express opinions. Our attitude for all consensual processes is that we give directions if we feel the need to do so for the sake of the process, and we provide opinions, to the extent we’re able, provided they won’t mislead any of the parties, and won’t otherwise compromise the process.
Accordingly, our mediations are flexible enough to incorporate the features usually associated with conciliations, as and when required.
It can be useful to engage an independent neutral party to investigate facts, opinions and perceptions that can be fed back to relevant parties to inform or defuse situations. We’ve found this approach particularly useful in the workplace and with families, where there are two or more views of the facts, and there’s no other easy, low-key way to establish the truth without causing significant embarrassment for some or many parties.
We’re usually engaged by all parties, and report back to them all. We also take on assignments for individual parties who are trying to get to grips with the facts so they can decide how they wish to proceed.
While this is usually an advisory function, the parties are at liberty to agree that they’ll be bound by our findings, at least for purposes of resolving their dispute.
We’re engaged to investigate and evaluate facts or situations and are required to provide an opinion on same, usually in writing. We may be appointed as experts in the field of our appraisal, or simply as credible professionals without expert knowledge.
We’re appointed by all relevant parties. They’re free to decide whether or not they wish to be: (a) informed or (b) bound by our conclusions, at least within the context of their dispute. Our conclusions are often used as an agreed basis for contractual purposes.
This process can provide a very quick and inexpensive way of credibly establishing certain facts that could otherwise cause a great deal of opposition and grief.
Neutral Interventions are used at an early stage in the lifecycle of a complaint or problem, usually in an attempt to prevent the problem from growing into a full dispute. Our expert dispute resolver contacts the (potential) complainant to help them to get their problem resolved as quickly and painlessly as possible (eg: after property damage or injury).
The expert gathers information about the parties and the problem and uses it to do things and/or make recommendations that could resolve the complaint.
Although they have no decision making powers and no formal advisory role, the more the expert gains the parties’ trust and respect, the greater the likelihood their opinions and recommendations will help to resolve the problem.