QCAT's hybrid hearing: The best of both worlds or compromised mediation?
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Mediation has been an essential component of the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal’s dispute resolution system since the tribunal was established in 2009. It usually takes place before a matter is listed for hearing. In September 2012, QCAT introduced a “hybrid hearing” which incorporates mediation after the hearing but before a decision is handed down. In so doing, QCAT created a second ADR pathway. This article compares the hybrid hearing pathway with the ADR-hearing pathway. The article also compares the hybrid hearing to a number of other processes which combine elements of mediation and adjudication. The rationale for the creation of these processes is explored. In QCAT’s case, the rationale is shaky. Although hybrid dispute resolution processes may have the capacity to provide “the best of both worlds”, in the author’s opinion, QCAT has unduly compromised the mediation experience of parties who are directed to a hybrid hearing. The article also raises a number of issues which have yet to be addressed by QCAT.
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