15/04/2019 - 14:17

Martin off the bench and in the game

15/04/2019 - 14:17

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Wayne Martin’s time as a judge has informed his new career as a mediator and arbitrator, and board member.

Wayne Martin is pleased to see such strong demand for mediation services.

Wayne Martin’s time as a judge has informed his new career as a mediator and arbitrator, and board member.

Wayne Martin has been busy since his retirement as Western Australia’s chief justice in July last year, with five new board roles resulting mostly from his time as a judge.

During his judicial career, Mr Martin learned how social disadvantage played out through the judicial system, particularly among Aboriginal people.

“When I first started as a judge, I’d be dealing with an armed robbery case and the lawyer would explain their client had been abused as a child,” Mr Martin recalled.

“Initially I’d say ‘What’s that got to do with robbing a chemist shop?’ and I came to realise it has everything to do with robbing a chemist shop.”

Mr Martin’s board roles include chairing Parkerville Children and Youth Care, which is focused on supporting victims of child abuse.

“Joining Parkerville is a consequence of what I saw in the courts,” he said.

Mr Martin is also a director of EON Foundation, which is focused on improving Aboriginal health and lifting self-sufficiency by establishing vegetable gardens in remote communities.

He is also the patron of Tura New Music’s regional program, through which mainstream musicians tour remote communities and work with Aboriginal musicians.

“Music for me is a bridge between cultures, a much easier bridge than language,” Mr Martin said.

Mr Martin has also been appointed chair of the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research and a commissioner of the WA Football Commission.

The latter role reflects his love of football, but he also sees a community focus.

“It’s the opportunity for community engagement that football provides that really interests me,” Mr Martin said, adding that football clubs comprised the biggest network of community organisations in the state.

“My arrival is serendipitous because the commission is moving much more towards a community-based organisation.

“It’s now encouraging WAFL clubs to see themselves as part of a broad-based community football structure.

“That’s a significant shift.”

Mr Martin said he was enjoying a fresh perspective on the world since he retired.

“One of the problems with judicial work is that you only see people in dispute with each other or who are alleged to have done bad things,” he said.

“You tend not to see people who are doing great things and getting on well with each other, so you can be a little jaded about humanity.

“I’m meeting a whole range of different and really interesting people who are doing great things.”

The flurry of new board appointments has meant the 66-year-old Mr Martin has effectively been working full time.

His goal is to combine the board roles with his new ‘day job’ as a mediator and arbitrator, which includes advising the Insurance Commission of Western Australia on the long-running Bell Group dispute.

Mr Martin said he was a big fan of mediation and was gratified by the demand he had seen. 

“One thing that has surprised me a little is the demand for mediation services, it’s stronger than I thought it would be,” he said.

“There is a real thirst for mediation services because commercial enterprises are jaded with litigation, whether you call it court litigation or arbitration.

“Despite the improvements that have been made it’s very expensive, it takes a lot of time, effort and energy, and the outcome is uncertain.

“Whereas with mediation you only get a result if both parties agree.

“And it’s much quicker and cheaper.”

Mr Martin said his job as mediator included working with the parties to find the best approach.

This could range from a hands-off facilitative style where parties were encouraged to find a solution, to a quasi-adjudicative style where the mediator formed a view.

“If I express a view about likely outcomes and risks, I would expect people are more likely to give that more weight because of my experience and the seniority of the position I held,” Mr Martin said.

“When I tell people litigation is a precarious business, no place for the faint hearted, hopefully they listen.”

He said the court system had become a lot more efficient over the past 20 to 30 years, in part because it had become a lot more like an arbitral body.

Mr Martin said arbitration held most appeal for international disputes, where the parties wanted a neutral forum and capacity to enforce a decision.

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