People engaged in disputes with the Earthquake Commission (EQC) will soon have access to a free mediation service designed to help them with "no personal bias."
The agreement to provide the new, independent mediation service was signed in Wellington by EQC spokesman Bruce Emson, and the Arbitrators' and Mediators' Institute of New Zealand (AMINZ) executive director Deborah Hart.
Emson said the decision to establish an independent mediation service recognised that there were times when there could be significant differences in perspective between customers and EQC that were best resolved with the help of someone who had no personal bias.
"The essential character of disputes taken to mediation is that there has to be a good prospect they can be resolved by negotiation. They could, for instance, be about valuations or options for remediation where EQC and the customer hold divergent views."
The service would be funded by EQC and would be free to customers. If a settlement was reached between the parties, an agreement would be signed which was contractually binding.
Some matters, such as interpretation of legislation, would not be covered by mediation.
The mediation scheme would be administered by AMINZ. All mediators would be experienced practitioners and EQC customers would be directed to the AMINZ website to select their preferred mediator.
It was hoped the mediation scheme would be ready by August.