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The Bishop or Hancock's half hour, in confidence

The Right Reverend Richard Pain, the Bishop of Monmouth, has had what are euphemistically called personality clashes with his senior staff.

The bishop hasn’t been suspended but he has been absent from work for several months following formal complaints and an investigation by the church which found there was no case to answer in whatever the dispute is.

However, if you’ve been paying attention to previous blogs, we all know the Church of England (and it’s Welsh counterpart) has been a great proponent of mediation and so the complaints have moved to a more formal alternative dispute resolution process.

A statement released on behalf of the Church of Wales said "In recent weeks there has been speculation regarding the Bishop of Monmouth and about relationships within his senior team…The Archbishop of Wales is aware of these issues and remains actively engaged, with all parties, in a formal process of mediation which seeks to resolve them.

“For reasons of confidentiality, and out of respect for those concerned in the ongoing mediation process, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.

"We understand that many people are concerned and frustrated with the situation but we continue to ask for their patience until the matter is resolved.

"The work of the diocese continues, and the staff in the diocesan office and the senior clergy of the diocese will continue to provide guidance and support for those who need it.

"The archbishop has written to the diocese asking people to continue to hold Bishop Richard, his family and the diocese as a whole in their prayers."

The BBC reports that their sources tell them no criminal activity is involved in the complaint and that rumours of parishioners refusing to make donations (of fleas or otherwise) are unfounded.

We mentioned last week Norway’s offer to assist in the Kashmir conflict, India responded via its Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj this week to reiterate her normal stance that they will not involve foreign governments in resolving their national boundary issues by mediation or otherwise.

Often at the start of a mediation process and well into it a party or parties will deny the usefulness of the mediator’s guidance and help. What more often than not happens is that a settlement is achieved, so if you are in a mediation don’t panic if the other side says they don’t want to take part, if they are in the room (or the building or the process) they want to find a resolution and may simply be looking to save face when doing so.

Pakistan has constantly tried to involve third party governments in resolving the territorial and political dispute but India remains fixed on the 1972 Simla Agreement which sets out that a discourse on this issue will only be between the two nations and will brook no interference from third parties.

India rejected the last open invitation to mediate from President Obama and since then the US has avoided antagonising India any further, no doubt the current President would suggest India just builds a big beautiful wall.

In a shrinking world where mediation has helped resolve some of the most embittered conflicts it’s hard to see how India can maintain that stance, there are no doubt back channel communications going on between parties and willing third party nation mediators, the UN, the US the USSR have all tried to assist in the past, here’s hoping those can reach some form of conclusion.

Ex-Louisville basketball star Luke Hancock met with NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) lawyers in mediation this week to try and resolve an attempt by Hancock and other team players (Gorgui Dieng, Tim Henderson, Michael Marra and Stephan Van Treese) to have the Cardinals’ 2013 championship title reinstated. The title and their numerous wins were stripped following what the players claim was an incorrect portrayal of the players’ attitudes.

Honouring the confidentiality of the mediation Hancock in, what I hope was a half hour, press conference said that he couldn’t say if he had reached a settlement “My attorneys have told me not to answer that…I've been instructed not to say anything. They were pretty hesitant for me to come out and say anything about it."

I do wonder why after a confidential meeting with a confidential outcome anyone decides to hold a press conference. I’ve yet to have a client who after reaching a confidential settlement agreement in mediation says they are going to release a statement to the press, thankfully most clients who have suggested such a step have listened when I’ve guided them back to the founding principals of mediation – that the process be voluntary, open, informal and most importantly confidential.

Staying in the US Spencer Collier’s defamation case against former Alabama Governor Robert Bentley has been ordered to mediation (did I say mediation was voluntary?) by Montgomery Circuit Judge Greg Griffin.

Collier was Bentley’s senior law enforcement officer but was fired by Bentley who then instigated an internal investigation into his affairs. An investigation which Collier says was unfounded and caused damage to his reputation. Immediately upon being fired Collier had alleged the governor had been in a relationship with one of his assistants. Both sides denied any wrong doing and have now been sent to try and resolve their dispute via mediation.

A little over a year ago I was one of the judges in the National Mediation Competition organised by the University of Law, now news of another mediation competition comes from Jodhpur.

The Alternative Dispute Resolution Cell, National Law University in conjunction with Centre for Mediation and Conciliation and with the support of Eastern Book Company, Indian Arbitration Forum, The Negotiation Academy, Nishith Desai Associates and SCC Online is to hold a competition running from 8th to the 10th March at the Jodhpur University and welcomes applications from all universities, colleges and law schools.

Good luck to all involved, if they are willing to pay travel expenses I’m happy to help out judging.

There are so many cases which could have been resolved by early intervention of mediation it continues to surprise me the lengths the public (and some lawyers) will go to avoid referral.

Whether you need a mediator to help out with a construction matter in the Northwest, or council’s plans in Cheshire, a civil mediator in London, a commercial mediator in Manchester, a dispute resolution for your family in Liverpool, a neighborhood mediation in Stockport, then our mediators at Northwest Mediation can help.

Mediation is cheaper, quicker and less stressful than running any case to court, it can help with any dispute whether it's an employment issue or the sale at an under value of a property, a fight with a neighbour, family issues, commercial disputes or inheritance arguments contact Northwest Mediation on 07931318347 or via email at

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