Alternative dispute resolution
The Administrative Appeals Tribunal Amendment Act 2005 commenced on 16 May 2005.
The Act expanded the scope of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) processes available to the Tribunal in the following major ways:
- Section 3(1) defines "alternative dispute resolution processes" as including:
a. Conferencing; and
b. Mediation; and
c. Neutral evaluation; and
d. Case appraisal; and
e. Conciliation; and
f. Procedures or services specified in the regulations;
ADR is not confined to the above but does not include:
g. Arbitration; or
h. Court procedures or services.
Section 34A(1) authorises the President to direct that a proceeding, or any part of a proceeding, be referred for a particular ADR process (including conferencing).
Section 34A(5) requires that parties who are directed to participate in an ADR process must act in good faith.
Section 34B authorises the Tribunal to direct that a Small Claims Taxation Tribunal (STCT) matter be referred to an ADR process and that the parties must act in good faith.
- Section 34C authorises the President to make directions about:
a. The procedure to be followed in an ADR process; and
b. The person who is to conduct an ADR process (must be a member, officer of the Tribunal or a person engaged under section 34H); and
c. What will happen following the conclusion of an ADR process.
Section 34E(3) provides an exemption to the inadmissibility of evidence of things said or done at an ADR process by allowing the admission of a case appraisal report or a neutral evaluation report in the absence of an objection from either party.
Section 34F permits a member who has conducted an ADR process to subsequently sit on a hearing of the matter unless a party objects.
Section 60(1A) provides that an alternative dispute resolution practitioner has, in the performance of his or her duties as an alternative dispute resolution practitioner the same protection and immunity as a Justice of the High Court. Section 60(4) defines an "alternative dispute resolution practitioner" as a person who conducts an alternative dispute resolution process under Division 3 of Part IV.
The AAT has a Referral Policy, guidelines and process models for the different forms of ADR to assist members, officers and parties to understand how ADR is implemented in the AAT: