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International Resolution Institute Conference 2022: Summary of key takeaways

Updated: Nov 23, 2022

On 7 October 2022, FamilyProperty attended the International Resolution Institute Conference 2022 at the Sydney Sofitel Wentworth. Alongside an impressive program of speakers FamilyProperty CEO and Legal Co-founder Fiona Kirkman presented on emerging technologies in Family Dispute Resolution, and demonstrated the functionality and benefits of FamilyProperty.

To recap the learnings or if you missed the Conference, we bring you a select round-up of key takeaways from the day.

Hon Ruth McColl AO opened the conference discussing the theme of the conference, Green Shoots - Emerging trends in dispute resolution emphasising the importance of dispute resolution and new trends as we emerge from the pandemic. She discussed green shoot dispute resolution processes being used by the Government and new conciliation conference processes.

The Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG and Dr Christopher Ward SC gave a plenary address on Global Disputes: International Law in Times of Challenge. The session discussed:

  • The importance of dispute resolution in managing indigenous issues

  • How dispute resolution is crucial in times of crisis (concerns that international affairs are similar to that as we experienced prior to WWI)

  • Situation in North Korea and the importance of going back to tried and tested methods of diplomacy - orthodox methods of negotiations

  • Russian invasion of Ukraine and current referendum, highlighting the legal techniques that have been brought to bear in the conflict (including international law / international dispute resolution) but noting ultimately a military conflict with an unknown nuclear threat.

Senior Judicial Registrar and Executive Director of Dispute Resolution, Anne-Marie Rice provided an update on the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia on the topic “FCFCOA - more than just a merger” highlighting the significant changes that have been made to the family law court system since the introduction of the FCFCOA including:

  • The overarching purpose of the FCFCOA being a major tool in the hands of Judicial Registrars to push dispute resolution

  • A major focus on dispute resolution with everyone to take on the role of “dispute resolutionists” and to look for solutions not just identify problems

  • Dispute resolution not being a single event but “a process”

  • The ways the FCFCOA manages risk noting 90% of cases have one or more risk factors and two thirds of cases have four or more risk factors. Managing risk for dispute resolution includes identifying risk, noticing risk, ongoing suitability assessment and tailoring dispute resolution conference type based on risk. Risk is “everyone’s business”

  • Managing post-filing dynamics including legalistic thinking, rosk, acrimony and fear

  • Since September 2021 there have been over 6,000 dispute resolution events - they have doubled the dispute resolution opportunities, however demand continues to exceed supply. The settlement rate for parenting matters is around 50% and for financial matters 61% which are good stats and indicative of good, early intervention (even in high risk matters) leading to resolution

The presentation concluded with a call to action - “the resolution revolution has arrived and we need to be part of it!

A panel consisting of Danielle Jaku-Greenfield, Nicole Ash & Miriam Zielger discussed “Legally Assisted Mediation and the challenges for the Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner” identifying three types of solicitor in dispute resolution and discuss the importance of supporting the relationships between the FDRP and the family lawyer being Advisor (who sees their role as supportive of the FDR process), Advocate (who sees FDR as an opportunity to resolve the matter) and Aggressor (who sees FDR as a step in the legal pathway) and the benefits and challenges of each type of lawyer.

The panel discussed their view that in 2006 (with the introduction of mandatory FDR) family lawyers and FDRPs were pitted against each other with solicitors initially not allowed into FRCs etc and how the FCFCOA has confirmed that both family lawyers and FDRP roles are here to stay and must work collaboratively together. The panel then provided case studies of how they have dealt with family lawyers in difficult FDR situations and the importance of educating family lawyers on the benefits of being the Advisor.

They ended the panel discussion highlighting the importance of reciprocated trust and knowledge and how we need to create a respectful and cooperative space focused on the family’s needs.

The Hon Justice Julie Ward provided a keynote address on Legal Technology and Artificial Intelligence (AI) and noted that COVID-19 discussing the different types of legal technology including expert systems and machine learning. Her Honour described different types of AI platforms including:

Her Honour concluded the keynote discussing the benefits and future of legal technology and quoting Albert Einstein: “In the middle of difficulty, comes opportunity.”

Lastly, our FamilyProperty CEO and Founder (also a specialist family lawyer and FDRP), Fiona Kirkman, spoke on the “Emerging Technologies in Family Dispute Resolution” discussing:

  • Identifying the pain points that technology can help with in family mediation

  • Innovative technologies in family mediation, including how FamilyProperty can empower family law professionals across the family law ecosystem with an easier and more accurate way to prepare, model and document family law outcomes

  • How to successfully implement technology into your family mediation practice

  • The future of the family mediator and the need for IQ + EQ + AI and a challenge to move along the innovation scale

Thank you to The Resolution Institute for such a fabulous event! For more download the Conference Booket 2022.

Learn more about how FamilyPropertycan help you and your firm - book an obligation-free demo with our friendly team.

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