The constructive role of the judge as a mediator

Judge Tony Lendrum
National Resource Judge for Family and Civil Settlement Conferences

Image of Judge Lendrum.A judicial settlement conference is a type of mediation conference convened by a judge.

It aims to resolve a dispute without the need for a formal court hearing.

Over the past three years I have convened about 170 conferences in my home court at Hastings as well as Napier, Gisborne, Manukau, Christchurch, Wellington, Hamilton, Rotorua and Taupo.

Conferences are available to parties in both the family and civil jurisdictions.

Similar to private mediation, the advantage of the settlement conference is that it enables parties to identify the real issues in dispute, and work constructively in a less formal setting toward reaching a solution they can accept.

The involvement of judicial guidance adds a helpful dimension to the parties’ assessment of their dispute. This saves considerable time, money and emotion. That is particularly important in family disputes where the interests of children can create significant challenges.

Experience shows that where a party plays a meaningful part in a settlement process, any subsequent agreement is more likely to be adhered to. Accordingly, settlement conferences have a high success rate in finalising cases that would otherwise require significant court time.

"Experience shows that where a party plays a meaningful part in any settlement process, subsequent agreement is more likely to be adhered to"