Two membership organisations join to create largest in Australasia

by Sophie Schroder19 Nov 2014
Last week members of LEADR and the Institute of Arbitrators & Mediators Australia (IAMA) made the historic decision to join together, creating the largest dispute resolution membership organisation in the Southern Hemisphere.

LEADR has been influential in New Zealand as a membership organisation, training and accreditation provider for mediators since the early 1990s. And then, in 2013, it integrated with its Australian counterpart to become a trans-Tasman organisation.

That coming together proved a great success and allowed the group to do things it wouldn’t have been able to do beforehand, according to LEADR director and NZ committee chair Mark Beech.

The latest integration with IAMA presents further opportunities to grow the membership voice of Alternative Disputes Resolution (ADR) practitioners in the Australasian region, he says.

“It enables us to roll out a lot more services for our members,” Beech told NZ Lawyer. “There was an historical attempt to merge [IAMA and LEADR] some years ago, but it’s only just come back on the agenda in the last five months…I think, like most membership organisations, there are certain times when it’s better to do things. The synergy is right, and the members are there to support it.”

Vitally, it will give disputes resolution in the region a multi-disciplined and international voice, he says.

Members of the new organisation across a wide variety of dispute resolution areas including mediation, arbitration, adjudication, conciliation, facilitation, community engagement, neutral evaluation, conflict coaching and restorative justice. 

There is an expected membership of more than 3,500 practitioners in the new integrated organisation.

“It enables our members to have credibility in the international market place,” says Beech. “I think there is an international movement towards resolving issues outside of the courts because of the costs and delays.”

New Zealand and Australia already have well-developed and respected disputes resolution systems, and the integration of LEADR and IAMA will build up a stronger platform to enable further opportunities within the Pacific ring, he says.

In August NZ Lawyer revealed that two Kiwis were named among the top 10 commercial mediators in the world in Who’s Who Legal.

Past LEADR fellow Geoff Sharp of Sharp Commercial Mediation in Wellington and Brick Court Chambers, and New Zealand born and bred Tony Willis, also of Brick Court Chambers in London, were recognised in the illustrious list of 300 of the world’s leading commercial mediators.

Sharp said it was a reflection of the high quality of alternative disputes resolution work in New Zealand.

He says the mediation market here is “very” mature and most lawyers in the jurisdiction have a sound understanding of it – especially considering almost all cases that go to the High Court would be mediated.

“I think we do mediation quite well and our general national psyche is well suited to it. Other jurisdictions do tend to like us over the Americans or the Brits because we’re the Switzerland of the Pacific, and people recognise that.”