- Conciliation is an informal, quick, and cost effective way to resolve a complaint.
- The process allows the complainant and the respondent an opportunity to talk about the issues.
- It allows the parties an opportunity to resolve the matter themselves.
- Conciliation normally takes place in a face-to-face meeting.
- The conciliation process is not like a court hearing. It is not a forum for cross examination or to determine whether a breach of the law has occurred.
Role of the Conciliator
- The Conciliator is not an advocate for either side.
- The Conciliator does not tell either side what they should do to resolve the complaint.
- The Conciliator is an impartial participant, who has no personal interest in the outcome of the dispute.
- The primary role of the Conciliator is to facilitate a voluntary un-coerced resolution of a dispute among the participants.
- The Conciliator encourages mutual respect between the participants.
- The Conciliator structures the conciliation process to allow the parties to make decisions based on sufficient information and knowledge.
- Should there be a conflict of interest the Conciliator shall disclose all actual and potential conflict of interest and shall withdraw from the Conciliation process.
- The Conciliator is unable to and will not give the Complainant or the Respondent any legal advice.
Attendance at Conciliation
- The complainant and the respondent are the main people in a conciliation process.
- Where the respondent is a company or organization, a representative can be appointed. This person should have the authority to make a decision on behalf of the company or organization.
- If the parties wish to bring a lawyer or an advocate, they are expected to participate in the conciliation conference with the aim of assisting in resolving the complaint.
- Advocates and lawyers are only allowed to consult with their clients and will cooperate and communicate with the conciliator in a conciliatory manner.
- If the parties wish to bring a support person they are only there for moral support and will not be able to participate in the process.
- If you need assistance such as a language or sign language interpreter, the Commission should be informed so arrangements can be made before the conciliation.
- All communication and information, whether written or oral, arising from or during the conciliation process will be treated by the participants and by the conciliator as confidential.
- Evidence of any information disclosed during the conciliation session is not admissible in proceedings before the Tribunal according to the Equal Opportunity Act, 2000, Part VII Section 40.
- The Commission expects that the complainant and respondent will agree to keep conciliation discussions and negotiations confidential. This means that the parties agree not to use what is said and done in the conciliation process in any related court proceedings, if the complaint is not resolve.
- The parties also agree not to make the information public in any other way.
The Conciliation Process
- The Conciliator may meet with the parties privately before the conference begins and also at different stages during the process.
- During theses private session (caucus) the conciliator will not tell the other side what was discussed unless the parties agree. If the conciliator thinks it is important to share the information with the other party the conciliator will discuss this with you first.
- The Complainant and Respondent will then meet together with the conciliator. The Conciliator will give both sides the opportunity to share their perspective on the issue.
- The Conciliator will help you talk about ways the complaint may be resolved.
- At any time during the process you can ask for a break or to meet privately with the Conciliator or with your lawyer, advocate or support person.
Resolution of complaint
- If the Complainant and Respondent have reached an amicable resolution this is usually written up in a ‘conciliation agreement’.
- The Conciliator will help the parties draft the agreement.
No resolution of complaint
- If a complaint is not resolved the Conciliator will forward the case to the Legal Unit.
Preparing for conciliation
- The Complainant and Respondent should ensure that they attend on the date and time assign for conciliation.
- The Complainant and Respondent should notify the Conciliator of any changes before the date of the conciliation session.
- The Complainant and Respondent are encouraged to obtain their own independent legal advice prior to the Conciliation session.
- The Complainant and Respondent should understand how the law may apply to the complaint and what might happen if the complaint is not resolved in conciliation.
- The Complainant and Respondent should be prepared to talk and negotiate with each other by agreeing to listen to the other side and to be respectful.
- The Complainant and Respondent should think about a number of options to resolve the complaint and be prepared to explain why they think it is fair.
- The Complainant and Respondent should also think about how far they may be willing to compromise to resolve the complaint.