Date of Award

2000

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours

Faculty

Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Dr Neil Drew

Abstract

This article provides a comprehensive review of research on the issue of procedural justice in dispute resolution procedures, with a particular focus on mediation. The review traces the history of the literature from the early control models of Thibaut and Walker ( 1975), through to the modem relational model postulated by Lind and Tyler (1992-1998). It discusses the major theoretical models of procedural justice in terms of their implications for legal dispute resolution and focuses on mediation procedures used by the civil courts. The models provide a theoretical base for identifying which psychological processes, namely non-instrumental, instrumental or relational, operate in influencing litigant satisfaction with civil court mediation. The models also help explain litigants' perceptions of the fairness of mediation and their satisfaction with it as an "alternative" dispute resolution procedure. Recent research has established that instrumental processes (those processes that revolve around issues relating to outcomes) and non-instrumental processes (those that incorporate the relational concerns and relate to issues of group membership and self-identity) are significant predictors of perceptions of procedural justice. Results from a field study of 103 litigants involved in pre-trial mediation conferences confirmed this, and further suggested that the non-instrumental concerns of voice and status recognition shape litigants' perceptions of procedural justice to a greater extent than the perceptions of mediator neutrality and trust. The design of the study also permitted an examination of group differences. Contrary to expectation, in the group of litigants who had not yet settled, distributive justice proved to be a better predictor of litigant satisfaction than procedural justice. These findings are discussed in terms of their implications for procedural justice theory and for the practical enactment of civil court mediation procedures.

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