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A Tale of two mediations

I had the benefit of seeing the consequences of parties’ decisions to mediate (or not) this week.

On one hand in an employment dispute involving bitter accusations on both sides and stress, strain and all the wasted time that goes into these conflicts mediation was chosen as the way forward.

The history of the case was that one party sub-contracted the other to work for them but neglected to have a detailed written contract. Both sides felt their view of the implied terms of contract were right.

Evidence of business practice and what had actually happened did not necessarily reflect either sides case.

By engaging in a one day mediation both parties walked away with a result they could accept at the earliest stage of court proceedings. Time saved, stress ended, money saved on both sides by avoiding further court costs and the lost hours of work that both sides would have faced had they not reached agreement.

On the other hand in a case involving adverse possession dating back some 13 years neither party opted for mediation.

Ultimately (after four years of the legal process) at the land tribunal one of the parties was said to be wholly successful, but only in terms of having the land declared as theirs.

The curious thing about winning at court is that you are rarely genuinely wholly successful. Even though the winning party in this case was awarded costs against the other the balance of their costs, some ten thousand pounds were not recovered and so fell to the winning party to pay.

So can they genuinely say they were wholly successful? Could an earlier engagement with a mediator have resolved the dispute without such a lengthy court case and the tens of thousands of pounds spent on both sides? I would argue yes. There was clearly a willingness on both sides to negotiate but neither party made any serious approach to the other to try and seek a mediated solution. Perhaps they did not know the option was there, something which the current Manchester County Court Mediation Pilot scheme should help with.

Meanwhile in mediation news on the other side of the pond an experienced mediator has been brought in to help resolve a dispute in St Paul, Minnesota. Here the governor, Mark Dayton has been in a battle with the senate for many months over funding issues an experienced retired judge Rick Solum has been called in to break the impasse.

Solum is famous for mediating solutions involving the Minnesota Twins’ stadium and more recently between Minnesota Vikings and one of their star players.

Now he is tasked with resolving a dispute which started when Governor Dayton vetoed the operating budget ($46 billion) for the legislature.

Whether you have a commercial dispute, an employment issue, an argument with a neighbour about their fence line or with the local council mediation can help resolve your problems without the delays and high costs of taking the matter to court. To discuss how mediation can help call me, Ed Johnson on 07931318347 or via email at

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