Focusing on Internet Accessibility. Member Spotlight: Chris LaHatte

Chris LaHatte is a member of the three-person MBBI Ombuds Team. With over 40 years of experience as a lawyer, Chris is a member of the International Ombudsman Association and the International Ombudsman Institute. He has published papers on Ombudsman issues in New Zealand Lawyer and in the International Ombudsman Association Journal. He is also apart of the Arbitrators’ and Mediators’ Institute of New Zealand (AMINZ).

The Work of an Ombuds

An Ombudsman, Ombudsperson, or the gender-neutral Ombuds is an official charged with representing the interests of a group by investigating and addressing complaints reported by members. Ombuds are independent, impartial, and neutral in their review of facts and complaint investigation, but most importantly, they are Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) practitioners.

The MBBI Ombuds Team has jurisdiction over issues regarding:

  • Actions carried (or the absence of) by MBBI, including the Board of Directors and management
  • Activities or behaviors you believe are unfair
  • Discrimination, particularly on the basis of race, gender, or disability
  • Bullying by someone in your team or your team leader

Please contact the Ombuds lead at, or if you prefer that the Ombuds lead to contacts you by phone, please send an email providing a number, date, and time where you may be reached.

Chris LaHatte has been a part of the MBBI Ombuds Team since 2016 but has been attuning to the specifics of mediation and ADR for the past 20 years. Through his legal career as a Barrister in New Zealand, he became aware of the fortitude of mediation as a more effective method of problem-solving than traditional law settlements. And ever since, he has tried to continually incorporate restorative justice practices as a way to focus on healing harms and resolving long-standing issues instead of solely coming to a consensus. He has a profile on highlighting his extensive legal and mediation career.

ICANN Increasing Internet Access

In 2011, Chris took a major change in his career by becoming the Ombuds for Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the global body administering the domain name system. ICANN is a multi-stakeholder organization where policy and governance are driven by bottom-up consensus decision-making. There are many diverse interests including government representation, intellectual property interests, civil society advocates, Regional Internet Registries, and representatives from the other main Internet players.

Although this role ended when he joined as one of the three members of the MBBI Ombuds Team, Chris is still passionate about ICANN’s international advocacy work. Especially as he lives in New Zealand and many of his clients are thousands of kilometers and many time zones apart, Internet access is a huge part of his career. If the time zone happens to land upon 3 am New Zealand time, Chris will gladly wake up as “solving the problem is more important than a good night’s sleep.” Luckily, as technological innovations continue to rapidly spread across the globe, Chris has seen the ease of implementing global ADR and mediation techniques. Cellphones and Internet access, in many cases, has become more of a vital tool for survival than electricity.

The world needs much more peace mongers and much fewer warmongers

With the increasing expansion of cellphone use, people have instant access to money transfers, international news, local weather predictions, research about their communities, and a method of communicating with anyone anywhere. A large computer is not necessary anymore to complete all of those tasks, so cellphones are becoming increasingly critical globally. They are immensely versatile and influential to human progress and development and have used as a social welfare benefit for homeless and/or displaced people.

To that end, Chris is a member of InternetNZ, a New Zealand organization that does domestic advocacy for expanding Internet access. Furthermore, ICANN, Chris’s first Ombuds role, has a Universal Acceptance Initiative focusing on expanding access to more people AND in more languages. A multilingual Internet is one in which, “users around the world can navigate entirely in local languages.” ICANN also has a published Roadmap for the Universal Acceptance Initiative detailing how it plans to accomplish this goal. Chris is an adamant supporter of this Initiative.

Article by Ben Lutz, MBBI Writer