Disillusioned and disappointed this week at the outcome of a court case, I took to a series of papers on alternative dispute resolution in strata communities. Two of my colleagues are studying this subject for their masters degree.
The most recent (Leshinksy, 2011) begins with the observation that owner / occupier and neighbour disputes can be some of the most bitter and protracted types of disputes in our communities. Ain’t that the truth!
Another (Fitzgerald, 1985), found 39% of households interviewed had experienced one or more neighbourhood grievances within the preceding three year period. Thirty five percent of these reached a dispute level in that one neighbour approached the other or a third party about the matter.
There was a high likelihood that those conflicts that reached the dispute level would lead to a damaged or destroyed relationship. Lower income groups were found to have a higher level of unresolved grievances and ethnic groups tended not to take their grievances to a third party.
Staggeringly, the local government (39%), police (29%) and lawyers (10%) were approached in almost 80% of cases.
My conclusion is this: there is no perfect form of dispute resolution. Every conflict is different but somehow the same. The saddest statistic of all from these papers is that nearly one quarter (24%) are not resolved at all. This is when things really get bitter.