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Mediation A Free Alternative To Courtroom Battle

Mediation in the Environment Court is a realistic, timely and cost-effective alternative to arguing your case before a Judge, Environment Minister Marian Hobbs said in Auckland today. She launched a new guide that aims to further promote mediation as an option.

"There is a misconception that lodging an appeal with the Environment Court will automatically result in a courtroom battle," Marian Hobbs said. "That’s not so. We need to make people more aware that mediation is available, does work, and works well.

"Mediation is a free service, and operates by sitting people around a table and working through issues in a controlled and mediated forum - avoiding a defended court hearing. This result is good for all concerned - the parties, the Court and the community."

Marian Hobbs said the new guide - You, Mediation and the Environment Court- was designed with those least familiar with the court process in mind.

"This guide is short and snappy and uses language that is straightforward and easy to understand. Anyone who picks it up can't help but be informed about the process of mediation," Marian Hobbs said.

"Specifically, it covers basics like what is mediation, what triggers the process, and how it works, answers common questions and provides simple explanations."

Courts Minister Matt Robson welcomed the new publication and says supporting mediation in the Environment Court with this guide is just one of the pro-active steps being taken to improve the efficient processing of cases through the Environment Court.

"The booklet complements the extra $2.1 million in funding and extra Judge and Commissioner announced recently, the Court's review of case management techniques and its review of operations, staffing and overall resources," Matt Robson said.

"Figures show that the number of cases in the Environment Court referred for mediation have more than doubled from 121 in 1998 to 334 in 2001. A considerable number of cases are resolved successfully through mediation.

"It is worth bearing in mind that only one percent of all resource consent applications find their way to the Environment Court."

The guide is being distributed by the Environment Court and provided to anyone who lodges an appeal at the Environment Court. It is also available from the Ministry for the Environment’s website - www.mfe.govt.nz - and soon the Department for Court’s website - www.courts.govt.nz

The Ministers said they hoped that people working in the environment law field, such as lawyers and other resource management professionals would also promote the use of the guide.


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