21 June 2017

GPC New Zealand - My Musings

Written by Annabel Shaw, New Zealand GPC Local Organising Committee Chair

GPC New Zealand was well attended with more than 80 stakeholders from across the dispute resolution spectrum in the room, including users, government officials, academics, conciliators, mediators, arbitrators, adjudicators, judges, lawyers, and professional association representatives. They came from a broad range of commercial fields, including insurance, banking, construction, utilities, property, employment, and local government. It was the first time in New Zealand a group of this nature had come together - let alone contributed its views to a global dispute resolution research project!

Once people got their heads around the format of the event and mastered the technology, the day really lived up to its potential. Responses to the research questions were thoughtful and well considered. The discussion was lively, insightful, and provocative. New connections were formed between people that otherwise would not have had the opportunity to meet.

One of the highlights for me was our keynote speaker, Chris Luxon, CEO of Air New Zealand. He spoke about the work he is leading to take Air NZ from “good to great”. I think it is a fitting expression for what we, as a dispute resolution community, should be working towards – taking dispute resolution from good to great.

We have made real progress over the four decades since the original Pound conference but we can still make more. GPC New Zealand gave me insight into the current gap between good and great, and some ideas about how we might bridge that gap. These are my musings:

  • There is currently heavy reliance on anecdote as opposed to evidence in dispute resolution. We need more research, including to better understand user needs and barriers to access
  • It can be a challenge to access users’ perspectives. We need more effective engagement and involvement with all types of users, including individuals and SMEs
  • Fragmentation is a real issue in the dispute resolution system. We need better integration of processes and stakeholders
  • Dispute resolution is not homogenous. Even within specific sectors, such as commercial, there is massive diversity in context, users, and the nature and size of disputes. We need a more sophisticated understanding of these differences and how to best serve them
  • Public awareness of dispute resolution is low. To help improve access, we do not just need more ‘promotion’ of one process or another, we need better education about the system as a whole – starting in schools and universities
  • Government plays an important role in all dispute resolution. We need better engagement between government and other dispute resolution stakeholders.


None of these are unsubstantial undertakings! There is no quick fix. But no one said getting to great would be easy. The Global Pound Conference felt like a truly progressive event in the journey – one I am eager to be on.

For another participant's view on the GPC New Zealand conference held in Auckland click here >>