In classic adjudication, someone generally wins and someone loses at the end of the hearing. The human rights system seeks instead to restore relationships, individual dignity and feelings or self-worth, and a community that values human rights. Some of the key goals underpinning this approach are that all involved will have a chance to be heard, understand the reasons for the decision, and take away from adjudication with a clear path forward.
This does not mean adjudicators will shy away from conducting hearings and making difficult decisions, by applying relevant legal tests and being guided by principled decision-making. It does mean that matters or questions of key importance to participants are not left unanswered. The opportunity for participants to address those questions will be woven into every stage of the Panel’s proceedings.
There will still be human rights decisions. Regardless of the outcomes, however, the restorative approach aims to leave participants feeling their lived experience has been heard and understood by the other participants.