Roles in dispute resolution

This page describes the roles government, industry and private providers play in dispute resolution schemes.


Government industry and private providers play one or more of these roles:

  1. The framework developer
  2. The standards-setter
  3. The demander
  4. The supplier and implementer.

There is an additional role of monitoring and evaluation which may also be needed.

Government's role

Government is often the demander, in the sense that it sees the need for a scheme, but supply can be provided by government directly, at arm’s length, or by the private sector. It can provide, require or encourage a scheme. It has strong involvement with framework development (eg, making legislation, regulations, rules and guidelines etc), but to date has had a lesser role in setting standards.

Even when dispute resolution processes are established and run privately, government still has an interest. It will expect the performance of these processes and the outcomes achieved to be monitored and evaluated. It will want whatever arrangements are in place to operate in the public interest.

Dispute resolution schemes can also generate valuable data and insights into trends and issues arising in the sector or industry that may require government attention.

Our role

The GCDR’s role is to:

  • support more consistent and coordinated dispute resolution across government (at both the scheme and system level)
  • facilitate improvements across all activities that contribute to high-performing dispute resolution processes and schemes.

Descriptions of roles in dispute resolution

The framework developer

The framework developer establishes the framework within which disputes will be resolved. The framework may include policy settings, legislation, funding approaches and accountability mechanisms.

The framework needs to be well designed as elements that are not fit-for-purpose may contribute to the emergence of disputes (eg, ambiguous legislative provisions) or constrain effective management of disputes (eg, high fees creating barriers to access).

Framework development activities generally relate to the setting up of a scheme and are generally core activities of government agencies but could be performed by an industry or sector body, for example.

Agencies developing or reviewing dispute resolution schemes must have a good understanding of the scheme's framework. We will be mapping parts of the New Zealand dispute resolution system so that government better understands the wider context in which each scheme operates.

The standards-setter

There needs to be clarity about the standards under which a dispute resolution scheme will operate and be assessed against.

Dispute resolution professional associations are responsible for setting professional standards and ensuring dispute resolution practitioners adhere to them.

The agency that identified the need for, and designed, the dispute resolution scheme is responsible for setting standards for the scheme's delivery and ensuring that those standards are met.

We will seek to ensure these standards are appropriate and being consistently applied across the government dispute resolution system.

The demander

The demander identifies the need for the dispute resolution scheme. This will generally be the government agency with policy and regulatory responsibility for the sector or industry (eg, the regime developed for UFB). While individual industry or sector participants may require a scheme to resolve their disputes, they are not considered the demanders of the overall dispute resolution system.

Government also holds the collective information about the government dispute resolution system and approaches, as well as what is in the pipeline for the dispute resolution market. We intend to help government to develop a more strategic and transparent approach to the dispute resolution market.

The supplier and implementer

The supplier or implementer delivers or operates the scheme. Government may directly administer or run a dispute resolution scheme, or part of it (eg, we provide mediation services for tenants and landlords), or it may be provided by an industry or sector group, or a private provider.

There will be a range of options to be considered in planning the implementation of a dispute resolution scheme. The choice will depend on factors such as the volume and nature of the disputes and willingness and capability of the potential participants (eg, the regulated industry may be well-organised and want to establish its own mechanism).

Some government agencies don't have delivery functions so will have to find alternatives. If private provision is being considered, it is critical to assess the market’s ability to deliver the outcomes being sought. We are working to better understand the dispute resolution market so government can better anticipate demand and plan for high-quality supply.

Monitoring and evaluation

Dispute resolution schemes need to be monitored and evaluated on an ongoing basis to ensure they are operating as intended and meeting their objectives and expected outcomes.

Information about disputes' nature and how they are resolved needs to be systematically collected, anonymised and shared with others in the sector/industry as well as being fed back into the policy development process to prevent future disputes.

Monitoring and evaluation processes contribute to the continuous improvement of regulatory systems and help identify emerging issues (eg, potential regulatory failures like leaky homes).

It is also important the dispute resolution functions across these regulatory systems are monitored and evaluated. This is part of our stewardship role.