New Victorian Bar scheme to assist parties in the Family and Federal Circuit Courts efficiently access mediation services


The new scheme allows for fast-track appointment of mediators and clear protocols about how mediations should be run

The Victorian Bar has launched a new Expedited Mediation Scheme with the Family Court of Australia and Federal Circuit Court of Australia to assist individuals and their lawyers find appropriate, nationally accredited mediators to help resolve their dispute out of court.

New protocols have been developed to provide a mechanism for nationally accredited mediators from the Victorian Bar to be nominated by the President of the Victorian Bar in the event that the parties cannot agree on a mediator within seven days of an order for mediation being made by the Courts. The protocols apply to Family Law Property proceedings in both Courts and to Commercial Panel and Industrial (Fair Work Division) proceedings in the Federal Circuit Court.  They will help ensure that resolutions to disputes can continue to be found through nationally accredited mediators with specific experience in online and in person mediation.

Chief Justice of the Family Court and the Federal Circuit Court, the Honourable William Alstergren, said, “I am very grateful that the Victorian Bar has been so helpful and supportive to the Courts in developing these protocols, which will greatly assist the Courts provide better and more timely access to justice where mediation is appropriate, by creating a mechanism to help parties make that first breakthrough – appointing a mediator – and then proceeding to mediation in accordance with the protocols.”

The President of the Victorian Bar, Wendy Harris QC, said, ”Finding alternative pathways to the resolution of disputes is all the more important in the current environment with the constraints imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic.  It is marvellous that the Victorian Bar has been able to work with the Courts to create a scheme to help parties access experienced barristers who are nationally accredited mediators, and those able to provide both online and in person mediations.”

Tony Elder, Chair of the Victorian Bar’s Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee, added, “I’d like to thank the Courts for giving the Victorian Bar the opportunity to develop these protocols to assist parties to move more swiftly toward resolution of their disputes. There have been many people involved at the Courts and at the Victorian Bar, and I’m very pleased that we have been able to put this scheme in place so quickly.”

The new protocols are part of the Victorian Bar’s Expedited Mediation Scheme, through which parties who are seeking mediation, or have been referred by the courts to mediation, and are unable to agree on the selection of a mediator, can access the Scheme. Under the general Scheme, the President of the Victorian Bar can appoint an accredited mediator from the Victorian Bar to commence mediation through the new expedited scheme, with mediation to commence within 30 days, unless extended by the parties or the Court. The Scheme can be used for any type of dispute requiring resolution.

More information about the Family and Federal Circuit Court protocols and about the Victorian Bar’s Expedited Mediation Scheme can be found on the Victorian Bar website here.

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