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Apologies, apology legislation and civil disputes : the practical implications of apology legislation for dispute resolution practitioners and their clients

Agapiou, Andrew and Cheung, Sai On (2017) Apologies, apology legislation and civil disputes : the practical implications of apology legislation for dispute resolution practitioners and their clients. Arbitration, 83 (2). pp. 133-140. ISSN 0003-7877

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Abstract

An apology is arguably the most effective way for a defendant, or other alleged violator of an accepted legal standard, duty or obligation, to demonstrate their assumed responsibility for a wrong committed. Whether an apology is heartfelt, or more calculated and pro forma, there is little question that when an apology is delivered, its maker has assumed at least moral responsibility for the act or omission in question. Societies tend to respect individuals that ‘own up’ to their faults, admit mistakes, take responsibility for their conduct, and offer an appropriate apology to any affected innocent persons. Radzik and Murphy explain that apologising is likely the most explicit manner through which human errors of any kind are acknowledged; ‘well-formed’ apologies implicitly acknowledge wrongdoing, responsibility, and an expression of regret or remorse. However, as the following critical discussions tend to confirm, apologies can also create a legal liability minefield for dispute resolution (DR) practitioners and their clients alike.