Dealing with disputes
Business-level dispute can be costly, time-consuming and frustrating. Business-to-business or consumer-to-business disputes both have unique challenges.
Dispute Resolution Services Ltd. (DRSL) offers services that are commonly called 'Alternative Dispute Resolution'. This covers several different techniques and can be used in one-off situations as required, or a formal and independent service that operates alongside your existing customer complaint process, with a full range of reporting, system design and implementation.
DRSL also has experience in setting up new consumer complaint systems as the Scheme Agent for the Telecommunication Dispute Resolution (TDR) service, the TDR. The TDR website details the workings and the history of the TDR service.
Mediation is often the first step in resolving a dispute.
The aim of mediation is to get both parties talking with each other, to get as much information sharing and communication happening as possible. Often disputes are the result of mis-communication, or an assumption about the amount of information that parties have.
When both parties agree to mediation a mediator will be appointed; this person works with both sides to try and get to an agreement about what the next steps will be. A mediator doesn’t make a decision about the dispute - mediation continues until both parties are happy with the outcome.
Mediation can be used in a variety of situations, including relationship, employment, community, commercial and ACC disputes – in fact any circumstances when two or more parties are unable to resolve an issue by themselves.
If it is an ACC dispute and mediation is not successful the dispute can go to the more formal process of an ACC review, where a third party (a reviewer) will make a binding decision about the outcome of the dispute.
More information about mediation can be found on the mediation page.
Facilitation is similar in many ways to mediation – both sides must agree to take part, and agree to meet either with each other and the facilitator, or with the facilitator alone.
The facilitator then acts as an ‘interpreter’, to make sure there is good communication between the parties, and that everyone understands what is happening in the decision process and why it is happening. The aim is for both parties to understand one another better, and to make sure all of the issues are clear and understood.
A facilitator may provide a written recommendation to all parties, but this is not a binding decision.
If it is an ACC dispute and facilitation does not resolve the issue, the next options are either an ACC Review, or mediation.
More information about facilitation can be found on the Facilitation page.
DRSL provides a review process for people who have been involved with ACC and are unhappy about a decision or an outcome that has been made about their claim.
People who contact DRSL are encouraged to try mediation first, to try and resolve the problem. However if mediation isn’t successful, or you want to go straight to an ACC Review, DRSL can also help you with that. You need to apply for a review with ACC first, which will then be forwarded to DRSL.
The ACC review process is a formal undertaking, where both sides meet with an independent and unbiased reviewer (usually from DRSL). The reviewer looks at all of the information that has been provided and makes a decision on what needs to be done to resolve the dispute. This can be anything from upholding the original ACC decision to overturning it, including decisions about costs and payments.
Any decision made by the reviewer is binding. A review decision can be appealed by applying to the District Court, within 28 days of the review decision.
If you have applied for or are in the process of a review you can still make a complaint at any stage about the management of your claim. If the reviewer and both parties agree you can put a review on hold while a complaint is sorted out.
For more information, see the ACC Reviews section.
You may also find these ACC links useful:
ACC Website - ACC Complaints
Make a complaint to ACC
ACC Website - ACC Reviews
Unhappy with a decision ACC has made?
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
These are some Frequenty Asked Questions regarding dispute resolution and DRSL. More information aboput ACC Reviews can be found on the full FAQ page.
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