28 July 2021

MEDIA RELEASE: COVID – 19 no barrier to dispute resolution as online mediation soars

Resolution Institute's 2021 Dispute Resolution Conference

28 July 2021

On the 15th and 16th of July over 400 delegates descended virtually on to the  Resolution Institute 2021 international conference, Resilience and Reinvention: Dispute Resolution During a Crisis. Distinguished guest speakers included Her Excellency the Hon Margaret Beazley AC QC, Governor of NSW and The Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG who delivered the keynote address, titled Wicked Problems. Bright Solutions. 

As COVID-19 continues to disrupt the local and global economies, significant challenges are apparent. For both private enterprises and public institutions, priorities are rapidly shifting under increased pressure and for organisations in dispute prone sectors, the efficient resolution of disputes is now more important than ever in order to maintain business and rebuild community confidence and harmony.  

“Flexibility and reinvention of consent-based dispute resolution procedures have become increasingly important in meeting the needs of parties especially in a time of isolation and social distancing.  Proving more cost efficient and expeditious than pre-Covid, we have seen a spike in online dispute resolution in mediation, arbitration and expert determination,” said Resolution Institute CEO, Amber Williams.  

That spike was responsible for an increase in ODR of 626% during 2020 and now dispute resolution, both online and face to face, is the preferred way of resolving disputes across a range of legal disciplines including Family Law, Sports Law, and small business disputes. This is particularly true as we find new and innovative approaches to resolving disputes during.  

“Dispute resolution, or mediation and arbitration, helps people and businesses to avoid the litigation lottery of having a dispute heard in court. Outcomes are more certain and it’s cheaper and more efficient than going to court,” said Ms. Williams.  

The Hon Chief Justice William Alstergren and The Hon Deputy Chief Justice Robert McClelland, spoke about the Family Court, which will soon be merged with the Federal Circuit Court, and discussed developments and rising trends in Family Law. There has been a steep uptake in the rates of arbitration in family law which the Justices both see as an encouraging sign and one that allows parties to choose their own resolution to a dispute instead of having one forced on them by the courts. 

One of the major take outs from the conference centred on the innovation of technology to improve access to justice, namely, online dispute resolution. A number of new industry schemes and initiatives will be launched in the coming months including the Family Law Arbitration program in partnership with University of Adelaide, and the launch of Resolution Institutes Expert Determination accreditation course in September.  

“Most courts welcome mediation and arbitration as Judges only have so many resources at their disposal and mediation is less of a burden on the courts. It helps disputing parties to resolve their disputes in a timely fashion and in a much less adversarial way. Mediation is key to success for parties who need to solve a problem quickly and cheaply,” said Ms. Williams.  

Speakers appearing at the event included key influencers and stakeholders from the business, government, judiciary, commercial and academic sectors. 

Resolution Institute is the peak industry body across dispute resolution disciplines in Australia and Aotearoa, New Zealand. We are a vibrant community of mediators, arbitrators, expert determiners, adjudicators, restorative justice practitioners and other dispute resolution professionals. We value integrity, excellence, innovation, collaboration, diversity, and influence. We reflect these values in our work for and with our members. 


Sean Brogan, Public Affairs Manager: 0477 102 303 

Andrew Serb, Research and Policy Officer: (02) 9251 3366