“100the provisions of the Courts (Mediation and Arbitration) Act 1991 be expanded to encourage and implement the development of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, not within the existing adversarial system but as realistic alternatives available at any time.
101agreements made between parties using alternative dispute resolution processes should not be subject to scrutiny or approval of the courts prior to signature by the parties.
102the legislation [should] provide for the review by the Family Court of any agreement reached between the parties in the event that there is a dispute in relation to agreements reached, such review to be subject to a time limit.
103the Family Court of Australia and the legal profession [should] take an active role in identifying matters which may be more suitable for resolution by alternative disputes resolution mechanisms.”
9.5In its 1994 report on Access to Justice, An Action Plan, the Access to Justice Advisory Committee included a “Draft Court Plan” which included the following objectives:
(1)adopting consistent simplified procedures and practices which set performance standards and minimise delay and costs to litigants,
(2)ensuring equitable access to court services for all potential clients,
(3)promoting fairness and the avoidance of bias,
(4)ensuring staff are aware of and meet customer needs effectively, and
(5)ensuring that the availability of resources reflects court priorities in access to justice and customer service.909
Mediation and the Access to Justice Report
9.6The Access to Justice Advisory Committee’s remit was to seek ways to enhance access to justice and make the legal system fairer, more efficient, and more effective.910 One aspect of their study was consideration of the role which could be played by mediation. The Committee recognised that there were arguments against the use of court-annexed mediation,911 but recommended that these be taken
909 These are strategies 1a-1e of the “Draft Court Plan” (1994), reported at paragraph 15.14 of the Access to Justice Committee’s report, infra.
910 In British Columbia, in 1988, the Justice Reform Committee produced a report, Access to Justice, whose goal was to “cause the justice system ... to be accessible, understandable, relevant and efficient to all those it seeks to serve”.
911 They outlined these as privatisation of disputes, power imbalances, cost savings by government, and second class justice.