Alternative Dispute Resolution

This is a personal offering of Ben Vanderkolk to BVA: use the best means to resolve disputes and avoid the uncertainty of litigation.

For over three decades, Ben has been regarded by his peers as highly skilled, impartial and independent – the essential qualities of the Crown Solicitor at Palmerston North. These qualities are recognised as a fellow of AMINZ and are critical in alternative dispute resolution.

Whether you need a private judicial determination of a dispute or an independent mediator to help resolve a dispute, you can benefit from Ben’s years of litigation, governance and commercial practice experience.

Backed by his team at BVA, Ben has administrative procedures in place for effective management of your dispute and the efficient resolution or determination of it.

Ben has served on the NZLS Law Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal and is recognised by AMINZ in Panel Appointments and Panel Lists. Ben is Chairperson to the standing Complaints Committee approved by the Registered Master Builders Association.

“I understand people’s needs when in dispute and their wish to resolve them.”

Dispute Resolution Scope & Services


My mediation practice involves full preparation before the mediation day to demonstrate to the parties I have a thorough knowledge of their dispute.

Prior to the mediation day I routinely convene one or more pre-mediation conferences with the lawyers. These are designed to reach agreement on the procedure to be followed at the mediation, prepare statements of issues, bundles of documents, and any other relevant materials.

I always meet with the parties individually prior to the commencement of the mediation day. My style is to hear from them their expectations and to demonstrate to them I am well informed on the issues in dispute.

I try to avoid mediation by attrition and will generally adjourn a mediation part-heard at around 5pm, (always recording agreements reached to that point) and with the agreement of the parties. In my experience too many settlements made in the evening occur when parties are tired, overborne, or exhausted.

Although demonstrating knowledge of the case, I adopt a naïve inquiry style, designed to uncover the genesis of any dispute – I describe this as discovering and revealing the irritant pea under the mattress.

I am prepared to offer potential factual findings and express opinions having heard from the parties or the lawyers. I am also prepared to make assessments of the quality of the evidence, assist in risk analysis, and review expert evidence from “will-say” statements.


My objective is to complete an arbitration to final award within three months from the date of my appointment.

I am determined to uphold the principles of arbitration being the cost effective, expedient, and timely determination of disputes. The cost of arbitration should not become prohibitive and thereby deny access to this form of ADR. The arbitration method needs to be a viable alternative to the public Court system.

The three month period will allow for all preliminary conferences and directions, the exchange of evidence, bundling of documents, the hearing, the writing of the interim award, and the final award including the award on costs. Some variation may be needed for interlocutory or unforeseen procedural requirements.

Any arbitration will be governed by the provisions of the Arbitration Act. However, I can assist parties at preliminary conferences to tailor the procedure of their arbitration to meet their needs within the provisions of the Act and the Schedules to the Act.

Your clients could use the arbitration framework for determinations of competing expert claims or for determination of competing factual disputes between parties. I could make credibility and reliability findings on the evidence which will be binding in this form of hearing.

Short Cause or Short Issue Determinations

This could be useful to determine a particular legal or factual point in issue between parties which could unlock the resolution of a wider dispute.

It could involve a form of mini-trial with the procedures agreed between the parties under an agreement the decision be binding.

Evidence can be heard and cross-examined with submissions presented for determination in writing.

If the issue for determination is clear I could provide a determination on the papers.

Fee Structure

– $4,200.00 plus GST per day


  • Convene and conduct pre-mediation meeting with counsel;
  • Prepare for mediation, becoming familiar with all materials;
  • Travel to Hamilton during the day prior to the mediation;
  • Meet the parties with counsel during the afternoon prior to the mediation day;
  • Conduct mediation (adjourn to a next day if needed);
  • Assist in recording settlement agreement;
  • No charge for travel or accommodation; and
  • Parties to pay for venue and refreshments.

– Fixed fee $13,500 plus GST for a one day arbitration, plus $3,000 plus GST for every additional day of hearing.


  • Preliminary conference and directions;
  • Preparation for hearing;
  • Hearing time;
  • Writing and issue of interim and final award;
  • No charge for travel or accommodation; and
  • Parties to pay for venue, recording and transcription of evidence.

Short Cause or Short Issue Determination
– $2,100 plus GST per half day


  • Preliminary conference and directions;
  • Preparation for hearing, becoming familiar with all materials;
  • Conducting hearing, unless determination is on the papers;
  • Issuing determination;
  • No charge for travel or accommodation; and
  • Parties to pay for venue and any recording and transcription of evidence if required.


Terms of Appointment

Please contact for a copy of Ben Vanderkolk’s terms of appointment.

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