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Friday, June 29, 2012

EQC - independent mediation scheme

EQC have announced an independent mediation scheme. It is independent because the scheme will use qualified members of the Arbitrators’ and Mediators’ Institute of New Zealand (AMINZ).

The scheme starts operating in August. At this stage there is no indication on the number of mediators available, how long the process will take, or any conditions attached to the process. Also not mentioned is whether there will be a prioritising of hearings to ensure those with the greatest need, or under significant time constraints, are dealt with promptly.

From the AMINZ website

The use of the word may on the AMINZ website suggests the scheme will not be available to everyone:
The mediation scheme will be administered by AMINZ. It may be offered to customers dissatisfied with EQCs complaints procedures where there is a good prospect mediation will result in a solution.
If it is to be "offered", how will claimants indicate they would like to receive the offer? Who will decide there is a "good prospect mediation will result in a solution"?

Also from the AMINZ site is a statement of what the scheme will not cover:
Some matters, such as interpretation of legislation and questions relating to apportionment will not be covered.
If prohibition against interpretation of legislation includes definitions of crucial concepts such as "replacement", "reinstatement" and "reasonably sufficient" then a major cause of complaint will be left out of the process. Similarly, excluding apportionment issues will also leave out a potentially major cause of complaint. How will these be handled?

From EQC's website

EQC's media release states:
The essential character of disputes taken to mediation is that there has to be a good prospect they can be resolved by negotiation. They could, for instance, be about valuations or options for remediation where EQC and the customer hold divergent views.
What is entailed by there being "... a good prospect they can be resolved by negotiation." will need explanation. Also needing some explanation will be how the issues in EQC's "too hard" basket will be handled.


At this stage, with the limited amount of information available, the scheme appears to fall short of what is needed to deal with the most important problems. It also fails to deal with the major problem of those who are ill-equipped to organise and present their case.

The EQC media release is here and the AMINZ web page for the EQC mediation scheme here.

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