As part of ADC’s first Thursday of the month evening seminar series, ADC was pleased to host Ms Tania Sourdin and Mr Tom Howe QC in May and June 2015. The overarching theme of these two evening seminars was ADR in the government sector. Mr Howe’s general overview of ADR in the government sector was complimented by Ms Tania Sourdin’s specific review of ADR at the ATO. Both presentations highlighted the successes and the challenges facing the implementation of ADR mechanisms in Commonwealth government departments and agencies.

Mr Howe emphasised the lack a holistic approach by agencies to engage with disputants through clear dispute management frameworks. Legal services directions require Commonwealth agencies to give thought to the possibility of ADR at every stage of a dispute. Recognising the reality of monitoring and developing effective dispute mechanisms as a daunting task, Mr Howe stressed the need to focus on a more consistent approach to dispute management in the government sector.
Mr. Howe highlighted that over the past 10 years it is regulatory bodies such as the ATO who have led the implementation of effective ADR. This theme was expanded upon by Prof. Sourdin’s research into the use of ADR in taxation disputes. Prof. Sourdin’s research focused on the types of ADR process used by the ATO, the types of dispute, the timing of ADR, its effectiveness, perceptions of fairness and the savings to cost and time that ADR has delivered.

Prof. Sourdin’s in-depth look at the ATO practices of implementing ADR demonstrated that effective ADR processes save time and costs; support trust and acceptance of government decision-making and promote better relationships between government and taxpayers. Furthermore, Prof. Sourdin outlined specific improvement opportunities to further impact the success of ADR mechanism at the ATO such as earlier recourse to dispute resolution and an opportunity for more participation in the process.

Please join us on 2 July 2015, for ADC’s next ‘first Thursday of the month’ Evening Seminar. ADC is thrilled to create a forum for thought leadership in ADR and provide you with the opportunity to stay-up-to date with recent developments and topics of interest, in discussion with industry experts.

Katlyn Kraus
Admitted New York State Bar, 2014; Juris Doctor Case Western Reserve University School of Law, Bachelor of Arts & History at The University of Michigan and Case Manager at ADC.