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  • Writer's pictureEd Johnson

Mediation Dross (it isn't)

With the limited access to courts and lawyers mediation is even more so now than ever the best choice to find a resolution for your dispute. Get your dispute resolved now while you can’t go anywhere you can really concentrate on what’s important and what deserves your time and energy.

Northwest Mediation uses Zoom, Skype and FaceTime as well as the phone and emails to resolve disputes so please do not feel that you cannot contact us as there are limits on physical meetings.

Never had my mediation referred to as dross before but there’s always time.

In this case we’re talking about the aluminium dross at the old Mataura paper mill wherein is stored a significant quantity of ouvea premix.

New Zealand Aluminium Smelters (NZAS) had proceedings instigated against them by the Environmental Defence Society (EDS), and now the environmental court has ordered mediation to determine who takes the responsibility for the dross.

The key allegation is that NZAS breached its permit by removing the waste product from the Tiwai Point smelter.

Southland Storage Ltd owns the property where roughly 8500 tonnes of waste product is stored where it is gradually becoming more unstable and dangerous, with the potential to release ammonia gas if it comes into contact with water (the building is riverside).

The product can however be used to manufacture fertiliser if dealt with correctly.

Under a previous contract which NZAS had with Taha Asia Pacific was storing the chemical from 2014 (without appropriate licence until a retrospective permission was granted) but Taha went into administration and the chemical has remained in situ. Liquidators have denied any liability for the storage even in the face of recent flooding when the risk was highlighted to the local populace.

Chief executive of EDS, Gary Taylor, said ‘‘according to Gore District Council’’ the premix would be removed by the start of 2023.

‘‘EDS considers this problematic as we have not seen the agreement to confirm the contractual obligations involved; and to our knowledge there is no weekly or regular monitoring in place to manage potential ammonia release, ongoing flood risk and/or water ingress through other means.’’

On behalf of NZAS Chapman Tripp law partners responded, said their clients were showing a willingness to assist but arguing that the movement of the dross offsite made it the responsibility of Taha under their previous contract and that NZAS no longer had responsibility for the disposal or any damage caused by the by product.

The mediation will hopefully identify not only a responsible body but a method of safe disposal or reuse of the product.

President of Rwanda Paul Kagam has acknowledge the assistance that mediation brings in dealing with court backlogs (MOJ take note).

“We wish that Rwandans further embrace the use of this approach of resolving disputes and conflicts through mediation. This will reduce the backlogs of cases as well as new cases filed in courts,“

Delays have nearly doubled according to Chief Justice, Faustin Ntezilyayo “It has been realised that people who seek services in courts have started understanding the role of settling cases amicably because cases that were solved during pretrial conferences increased to 6 per cent last year from 3 per cent in the previous year, while 897 cases were handled through mediation”

In New York on Staten Island there has been an upsurge in violence arising from various sources from domestic violence to gang culture.

Project manager and conflict mediator with True2Life Staten Island Mike Perry has said that the illness is societal and has "festered" for decades in the under-invested areas of the borough.

His mission is to take on potentially violent disputes, educate and help the community address issues to break the cycle of crime and poverty.

“We’re dealing with economic violence in our neighbourhood...We live on top of each other, we’re poor, we’re under-resourced. Of course there’s domestic violence, drugs and conflicts.”

The city has a $45 million Crisis Management System & Cure Violence Movement under which True2Life falls. The system is a consortium of citizen led groups independently operating from any of the normal law enforcement agencies.

Mike was raised in Richmond Terrace Houses and was involved in criminal activity so he speaks with knowledge when it comes to what draws people into the cycle

“I know what it’s like to wanna kill someone, I know what it’s like to almost be killed, so I absolutely pull from my experiences...Being in (that lifestyle), you’re not fully conscious. You don’t really have an understanding about life or how this thing works... until you grow up and understand that it’s an evil, wicked lifestyle to be in.”

Mike assesses that for every act of violence which has taken place True2Life mediators have prevented two more. The group is proactively checking social media and exchanges for issues which may flare into violence and addresses them head on.

As we’ve said before choose to mediate early and resolve your issues effectively, timeously, and with less stress and costs than going to your solicitor. You have an interest in the outcome the sooner you get round the mediation table the quicker you can move forward and avoid the grilling a cross examination in court would put you through.

By having a deep and meaningful discussions with parties the mediator elicits what the true “red-lines” are and where there is the potential for compromise, it is with this structured period of reflection that the parties are then able to reach an accord.

The flexible nature of mediation and the possible outcomes make it an ideal way to resolve disputes in an ever changing world and the open nature of discussions in mediation whilst remaining confidential allows all sides to engage fully in the process and understand the needs of all involved allowing parties to reach a conclusion which both sides can live with and move on.

There are so many situations which could have been resolved by early intervention of mediation it continues to surprise me the lengths the public will go to avoid referral. Whether you need a mediator to help out with a construction matter in the Northwest, or council’s plans in Cheshire, a civil mediator in London, a commercial mediator in Liverpool, a dispute resolution for your family in Manchester, a neighbourhood mediation in Stockport, then our mediators at Northwest Mediation can help.

Mediation is cheaper, quicker and less stressful than running any case to court, it can help with any dispute whether it's an employment issue or the sale at an under value of a property, a fight with a neighbour, family issues, commercial disputes, civil mediation or inheritance, wills and probate arguments contact Northwest Mediation on 07931318347 or via email at

neighbour mediation; commercial dispute resolution; civil mediation; commercial dispute; corporate dispute; commercial mediator; family mediation; inheritance wills probate mediation; property mediator; civil mediator; civil litigation; fast track mediation; injury mediation

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