The Great Orange Dispute

Once upon a time two people were fighting over an orange. One person felt entitled to the orange because she planted the seed for the orange tree. The second person believed he was entitled to the orange because he had watered the tree from which the orange was picked. They each hired a lawyer to advance their position as to why they should have the orange.

The lawyers researched precedent case law and developed arguments to support their client’s claim to the orange. When presented with these arguments the judge found merit to each of the claims and ordered that the orange be cut in two equal pieces, so that both could enjoy some benefit from their labour.

Neither party was pleased with the outcome. The first person took their ½ piece home but did not have quite enough juice for her Tequila Sunrise. The second person took home their ½ piece and did not have enough rind for the marmalade he was going to make. How different the outcome could have been if, instead of focusing on their positions for ownership of the orange, discussions had been focused on the needs of the parties. Had that been the case, each person would have received maximum benefit of the orange.

The tale of “The Great Orange Dispute” illustrates how disagreements in traditional court processes may be dealt with, which can result in a ‘win/lose’ outcome for the parties involved. In contrast, the Collaborative Process focuses on finding creative options to address the dispute(s), with the goal of reaching a ‘win/win’ resolution.