Lawyer Monthly - ADR Awards 2023

27 LAWYER MONTHLY ADR AWARDS 2023 Mediator of the Year Level 17 Chambers About Martin Martin Daubney views his current practice as a mediator as a natural extension to an already full career in law. He was admitted as a barrister in Queensland in 1988 and appointed Senior Counsel (now King’s Counsel) in 2000. As a barrister, he practised principally in commercial and insurance law. He also developed and maintained a significant practice as a mediator, particularly in commercial disputes. From July 2007 until 31 December 2021, he served as a judge of the Supreme Court of Queensland. He was also President of the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal for four years from October 2017. Since retiring from the Supreme Court, he has returned to practise almost exclusively as a mediator in civil and commercial disputes of all varieties and complexity. When asked about his approach to mediation, he says that he doesn’t regard himself as a mere facilitator or messenger for competing offers. “My role is to actively assist the parties themselves to take control and decide how a dispute is to be resolved, rather than handing it over to a third party (a judge) to impose an outcome on them.” He considers that his years as a legal advocate for parties and then as a judicial decision maker have equipped him well for his current work as a mediator. “It’s important to remember that I’m not there as an adviser or judge,” he says. “My role is to assist the parties to have a proper understanding of what their dispute is really about, to assist them in deciding how to resolve the dispute, and to reality-check them and their advisers at each point in that process to ensure they understand the consequences of the decisions they are making.” He observes that sometimes the parties need to be helped to explore alternative, and even creative, options for settling their legal disputes, and that this is an area in which his own insights and broad experience can be of particular assistance. He also emphasises the need for discernment and understanding on the part of a mediator. “Mediation is often a very personal process. Being involved in litigation is a stressful experience for most clients. Even for sophisticated parties, it can be distracting and vexing. Very few commercial disputes are ‘just about the money’. In many matters involving parties whose long-term business relationships have broken down, there can be significant personal overlay. And that is invariably magnified in disputes involving family members. Depending on the nature of the matter, there may also be cultural issues or political considerations to be taken into account. These aspects might be collateral to the factual or legal dispute, but they are factors which influence the decisions being made by a party in a mediation.” He regards himself as realistic in utilising mediation to assist parties. “Not every case can be settled. But even when consensual resolution is not able to be achieved, the parties should leave the mediation with much greater insight into the true nature of their dispute and the pros and cons of the formal court process to which they are submitting themselves.” In addition to his mediation and ADR practice, he also has significant governance experience in both the public and not-for-profit sectors. He was appointed Chancellor of Australian Catholic University on 1 January 2022, and has been a member of the Board of Trustees of the Queensland Art Gallery since 2020. AUSTRALIA Martin Daubney

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