Civil and Commercial Mediation updates
Land and property mediation takes up a lot of time and effort, if you look on the Case Studies page you’ll see one case I was tangentially involved in where the plot involved was about the size of a shed but the costs ended up being in excess of 40,000 because the parties did not go to mediation, and still had to live next door to each other.
And so in New Delhi where the Supreme Court has ordered the parties in the Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case attend mediation with a court appointed mediator. The case started with the demolishing of a place of worship (hence the photo).
The Muslim parties in the case said they would agree to the mediation but the Hindu party said the objected as previous attempts had failed, the court in a spectacular endorsement of mediation said even if there was only a 1% chance of success it was beneficial to attend mediation.
Meanwhile in the commercial dispute revolving around the Ricoh Arena in Coventry (you must have read our previous blogs on this one) the Dean of Coventry Cathedral, The Very Rev John Witcombe, previously managed to secure agreement by involving professional mediator Bill Marsh.
The ongoing dispute about the use of the arena by the Sky Blues (Coventry City FC) is now back in dispute and the supporters group Coventry Live is appealing to the cathedral for mediation assistance again – unfortunately the Dean is currently on sabbatical so there is no obvious intervenor.
Meanwhile in tech mediation news it is claimed that a “mediation algorithm” has solved a dispute for the first time in the UK.
Using the web application SmartsettleONe Graham Ross says he managed to settle a dispute between parties over a £2000 unpaid counselling course fee.
The machine mind used a blind bid system to gradually work out where the overlap in the numbers was and produce a result which both parties had, by their bids, said was acceptable to them.
Whilst it’s a good use of technology and a lot of mediations do ultimately involve quite a lot of going back and forth between parties the assumption that all mediations are basically number crunching games of “who blinks first” is to dangerously oversimplify the mediation techniques.
Northwest Mediation has consistently found that information is the key to a successful mediation not merely seeing how much Party A is prepared to drop by and how much Party B is prepared to increase their offer.
As a mediator my concern is that too frequently lawyers and the public see mediation as just a negotiation exercise and not the complex assessment and exploration of parties’ positions which are so often necessary to find a resolution. You can tell that Graham knew he’d get some kick back from mediators when he says that the tool should be seen as a way of improving the service we offer not as a threat to mediators. It’s not a threat and yes it is another tool in the box (though not one I think is necessary as blind bids have always been a possibility if appropriate within mediation) but the reporting of the case (as ever) oversimplifies the whole process.
Stress is one of the key issues that parties face in any dispute that comes to mediation, whether they like to admit it or not, and this article explores the notion of dealing with and specifically acknowledging those stresses to prevent the natural stress reactions interfering with mediations. It’s a good read and a valuable reminder of what the parties sat with you (not in front of you) at a mediation are going through. My own experience of how stress can damage yourself and all those around you was in part one of the reasons for becoming a mediator so I wholly recommend reading this article by Jill Tanz the brief (and much simplified) headlines are that mediators should:-
assess both sides’ stress levels in a short pre-joint session meeting (which is what Northwest Mediation always does)
discuss possible stress reduction techniques reminding parties they can go for air (which used to also be code for a smoke break), have a walk, do some breathing exercises
ask what emotion the parties are feeling (the listening rather than labelling that is part of the mediation technique can easily get forgotten)
give the parties time (even if their lawyers are pushing for decisions to move on to the next case, the parties must have time to recover to be able to make reasoned lasting decisions)
minimise venting – all parties need to let off a little steam but encouraging it can be counter-productive to the process
summarise (the positive wherever possible) to keep the parties focused
Having read the article I am reminded that parties often come to mediation with preconceptions and daggers drawn and that their advisors often come with a view that they will tell their clients what to say to do and when to call an end to the process.
I had a difficult experience of this recently when it was felt to me that one of the legal advisors had been paid to turn up and wanted to be out the door as soon as possible regardless of the outcome, the power of allowing that client time (and the power of silence and breaks) in that mediation allowed the client to come to terms with the position they wanted to adopt and make a reasoned and informed decision.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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