LAWGENRL 424 - Negotiation, Mediation, and Dispute Resolution

Credit points: 15 points
Offered: First Semester
Contact hours: Lectures - 4 hours per week
Course Coordinator: Ian Macduff
Restriction: LAW 447

This is a limited-entry course.

Course description

Disputes are an inevitable feature of human society. Traditionally, litigation was the default method for resolving legal disputes. Over recent decades, however, there has been exponential growth in the awareness and use of so-called “alternative” dispute resolution processes, both in New Zealand and internationally. The best lawyers now take a more strategic approach to dispute resolution, selecting the most appropriate process for any given dispute and adapting their model of client representation to suit that process.

This course covers the legal framework and theoretical aspects of non-litigation dispute resolution processes, primarily negotiation and mediation, together with experiential learning through role play exercises, group exercises and self-reflection.

Content outline

The topics covered are:

  • the dispute resolution processes commonly used in New Zealand and the advantages and disadvantages of each;
  • negotiation theory and practice, including different approaches to negotiation, how to prepare for negotiation, negotiation tactics and strategies;
  • understanding conflict dynamics and the implications for dispute resolution;
  • the mediation process, including assessing suitability for mediation and effective client representation in mediation;
  • legal framework issues in mediation, including enforceability of mediation agreements and remedies for breach, privilege and confidentiality, and when settlement agreements can be set aside;
  • jurisprudential debates about the proper place of mediation in the civil justice system; and
  • through a group research project and presentation, specific topics in dispute resolution theory such as cultural and ethical issues in negotiation, power issues in mediation, restorative justice and online dispute resolution.


3750 word essay (50%)

1500 word journal/reflection (20%)

1500 word review essay (20% )

Participation (10%)

Prescribed text

R Fisher, W Ury and B Patton, Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In (3rd ed, Penguin, London, 2011).


This is a limited-entry course. A maximum of 52 students may enrol.

Ballot amongst on-time applicants with preference given to LLB and LLB(Hons) students in their final two semesters of study and/or enrolled in LAW 498, thereafter to GradDipLaw and GradCertLaw ahead of COP students and those from other programmes. Temporal enrolments thereafter.   

Students can add their name to the ballot from 1 November when enrolments open. 8 December is the closing date to have indicated interest by enrolling on the waitlist.

The ballot will be conducted around 12 December.

The outcome of the ballot will be advised a few days thereafter; those students who have not had their enrolment confirmed will be placed on a new waitlist. If any of the selected students withdraw from the course, the class will be topped up from the waitlist.