Disputes of all types are increasingly dealt with by methods of dispute resolution that do not involve a decision by a court or tribunal and instead involve ‘alternative dispute resolution’ (ADR) or—even more broadly—non-adversarial justice. Chapter 11 examines ADR and restorative justice in disputes involving family violence; processes that operate within or alongside family law and criminal law respectively, and which thus affect the operation of some of the legal frameworks that are the subject of this Inquiry.

The use of non-adversarial methods is controversial in disputes involving violence and abuse. A major concern is that non-adversarial methods are often based on negotiations between parties and consensual agreements. In the context of family violence, the power relationships between the parties may make this dangerous or produce unfair or unsafe agreements. Further, non-adversarial methods often take place in private and may thus conceal violence. Nevertheless, much work has been done in recent years to develop non-adversarial methods in ways that provide protections for vulnerable parties.