Currently there is no comprehensive national legislative framework for ADR. However, there is legislation in different jurisdictions that addresses specific aspects of ADR. For example, in the Federal sphere the Federal Court of Australia Act 1976 includes provisions relating to mediation and arbitration and the Family Law Act 1975 includes provisions covering arbitration, family dispute resolution and the role of family consultants in the Family Court of Australia. The Australian Capital Territory has umbrella legislation covering mediation services in the Territory titled the Mediation Act 1997. Other jurisdictions, tend to have legislative provisions that deal with ADR in specific contexts.
Following a review of the existing statutory provisions, NADRAC developed a guide titled Legislating for alternative dispute resolution: A guide for government policy-makers and legal drafters to assist those involved in developing or amending legislative provisions concerning ADR. The Guide, which was released in November 2006, addresses key issues, including referral to ADR, confidentiality and admissibility of ADR communications, and immunity of ADR practitioners.
NADRAC has developed a compendium on relevant Australian legislation current to 2004, which focuses on legislative processes as to ‘who can refer to, or conduct mediation’.