In place of strife

September 15, 2011

Regarding "Speedier alternative to 'obsolete' OIA unveiled" (1 September) and "OIA remains the final refuge" (Letters, 8 September): we feel we should clarify the Centre for Justice's role.

What is missing and badly needed in higher education, as elsewhere, is a service that resolves complaints and disputes quickly, affordably and reliably.

CfJ was set up to meet this need. We offer a non-adversarial independent adjudication service: there is no need for long damaging battles between opponents polarised by the process, nor for expensive lawyers to navigate parties through complex hearings and procedures - with CfJ there are none.

Our assessors (or adjudicators) are lawyers specialising in the field who go straight to the issues. Dealing direct with the parties and the evidence, they carry out thorough investigations and make binding awards quickly. No effort is wasted proving who is better able to win a war of attrition. This direct approach cuts time and cost, minimises process/litigation risk and leads to fairer, more reliable outcomes.

We also offer parties mediation up to final award to help agree solutions beyond the narrow legal issues. This can help to achieve positive outcomes and restore relationships.

The Office for the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education remains one of the better ombudsman schemes, but it is handicapped by its inability to intervene until internal procedures are complete (which can take years); its obligation to refer within three months; limited funds; and a perceived lack of independence.

For institutions that want staff and student grievances resolved quickly in a way that satisfies all parties, we believe our solution can meet their needs.

Anthony Hurndall, Director, Centre for Justice

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