Facilitators in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Tuesday, May 29 2012 

The launch in January 2012 of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Service (ADR) by Her Majesty Revenue and Customs in England and Wales, illustrates the importance of  resolution of disputes using alternative means. The use of ADR  mechanisms such as negotiation, mediation and conciliation, are being encouraged by both private and public sectors.

The essence of resolution of disputes by the HMRC using alternative means have been possible through the use of facilitators, who carry out checks on intending customers, evaluate the dispute and carry out an assessment based on the evaluation.

An obvious advantage of this procedure, is the fair and quick turn around of cases for parties as well as the costs efficiency. The effectiveness of alternative dispute resolution can not be under – rated, neither can its place in dispute resolution be undermined.

In a recent interview the HMRC stated the use of ADR has been made to be inclusive of  small and medium enterprises as well as individuals in England and Wales.

HMRC’s, Jim Stevenson, Assistant Director, Local Compliance, said:

“The pilot has shown that ADR can resolve disputes without having to go to a tribunal – saving both time and money. It allows us to work together with our customers and resolve disputes much earlier than at present’.

He further stated, the essence of ADR by the HMRC is to resolve as a many disputes as possible within a short space of time.

Usually a facilitator is a trained personnel.  At the HMRC the facilitators are members of staff specifically trained in the application of ADR mechanisms to interested parties, and who have not in any way been involved in the dispute they seek to determine. The criteria of non-involvement normally used is to avoid conflict of interest.  This thereby helps with an impartial decision by the facilitator which will be acceptable to both parties.

As expected the facilitators deliver with the help of  the parties seeking the resolution of a dispute, and a comprehensive understanding of the case, within an agreed time frame or mandated time frame by the instituting body.

Sometimes, there are communication challenges and at this point the facilitator steps in to address the grey areas to either of the parties or both parties. More often , than not the clarification given by the facilitator helps put matters in perspective, and assist the involved parties determine which direction they intend to steer their dispute towards.

To get more information http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/adr/index.htm

In your view do you think ADR should be used in the mainstream public sector, just like the HMRC is doing in the resolution of disputes ?

Social Media revolution and resolution of disputes online Sunday, May 6 2012 

The Social Media has continued to play  an important role in society from Facebook,YouTube,Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn. It is not confined strictly to connecting with friends as seen on Facebook and twitter, rather it progresses to LinkedIn a professional platform for professionals to exchange ideas and forge business ideas.

In 2011, Africa triggered off a Social Media Revolution which saw the world look in amazement and interest. The revolutions were seemingly successful because of the use of social media platforms notably Facebook, twitter and you tube. The use of Facebook was one that saw real involvement from  parents to the youths, though most importantly the youths and the role played by them.

The exit of Ben Ali of Tunisia, and the oust of Mubarak and subsequently the death of Gaddafi signalled the validity of social media platforms; as a tool to organise and plan effectively revolutions and much later  ‘occupy’ protests around the world. This simply showed social media through Facebook can be used to plan an action, while twitter is used to disseminate information and YouTube a platform to broadcast the message to the world.

Consequently, with the planning of revolutions, protests, Occupy on the various social media platforms, it also means such conflicts/disputes can equally be resolved using social media platforms. There are numerous instances where misunderstandings, disputes and conflicts have been resolved through the various social media platforms.

The social media revolution in 2011, which was started in Africa highlighted the impact of social media in effecting change. Ultimately, conflicts and disputes can be resolved online using the various social media platforms.