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  • Ed

Mediation an answer to the housing crisis?

A quick roundup of the pre-Easter mediation news including some eggcellent steps to deal with a landlord and tenant crisis from which the UK government could take lessons.

A report conducted by the Grad Valley State University College of Community and Public Service (!) and School of Criminal Justice in association with Michigan mediation centres and courts has confirmed that the outcome in child protection cases produce is improved by use of mediation.

The high court in Michigan release the results of the study last week proving that mediation increases the likelihood of arrangements remaining permanent with a high level of parental compliance and positive perceptions of the process from all involved.

Chief Justice Bridget McCormack said “Our goal in child protection cases is always to establish safety and stability in a child’s life…Child protection mediation is a valuable and effective method to accomplish exactly that while also benefiting the family, the community, and the court.”

The report further confirms that mediation results in speedier outcomes for families, which means less cost (whether public or private purse) and less stress to all involved.

Of course it does, as I have said many times mediation in the majority of cases produces excellent long lasting results.

If you’re thinking of doing some gardening this bank holiday weekend perhaps this might be of interest to you.

Thousands of claims have been lodged against Bayer AG claiming that the weed-killer “Roundup” causes cancer, so far in two consecutive cases Bayer has lost and been ordered to pay damages.

Now the court, District Judge Vince Chhabria, has ordered the claimants and Bayer to attend mediation, he’s given them the option to choose a mediator or if they cannot agree the court will select an independent mediator to work with both sides.

Since Bayer lost the first trial in August (and as an alleged direct result) the company’s value has dropped by $34 billion, in addition they were ordered to pay $78.6 million in damages.

Whilst saying Bayer would deal with the mediation I good faith the company also released a statement saying “As this litigation is still in the early stages — with only two verdicts and no cases that have run their course through appeal — we will also remain focused on defending the safety of glyphosate-based herbicides in court,” and going on to reiterate its position that it had an “extensive body of reliable science supporting the safety of Roundup”

But given the impact on the overall business value it may make sense to get as many cases into confidential mediation to find a settlement as soon as possible.

Not quite mediation but still alternative dispute resolution (by arbitration this time) in every billionaire tax dodger’s favourite off shore location the Cayman islands.

Specifically I wanted to highlight this case for the comment in the judgment regarding Section 4 of the Foreign Arbitral Awards Enforcement Law (1997 Revision) ("FAAEL"), which says "If any party to an arbitration agreement, or any person claiming through or under him, commences any legal proceedings in any court against any other party to the agreement, or any person claiming through or under him, in respect of any matter agreed to be referred, any party to the proceedings may at any time after appearance, and before delivering any pleadings or taking any other steps in the proceedings, apply to the court to stay the proceedings, and the court, unless satisfied that the arbitration agreement is null and void, inoperative or incapable of being performed or that there is not in fact any dispute between the parties with regard to the matter agreed to be referred, shall make an order staying the proceedings."

In short (and as upheld by Judge Kawaley) if you’ve got an agreement in your contract to go to an arbitration (or other ADR) then unless the contract is void you must go to ADR. In the words of the judge "to give effect to the strong legal policy that where parties to a contract have agreed to exclusively refer a suite of disputes to arbitration, they should be held to their contractual bargain."

Ok, so it’s not a UK decision but the judgment makes a good point, if, as companies should do under the EU Mediation directive (which is still in force at least until October 31st) there is a mediation/ADR clause in the terms of a contract, whether it’s employment or a contract for delivery of goods or services then the parties to that contract should first and foremost seek to resolve their issues by mediation.

It’s not difficult to get your head round but it still seems that companies in the UK fail on two points.

Firstly by not complying with the directive and secondly (when they have complied) turning to their lawyers first rather than the cheaper, quicker and less stressful method of settlement that is mediation.

I often say that mediation is less stressful and you may think that corporations (big and small) are faceless blobs who do not feel anything, but as a business owner you will know that you feel almost everything that happens in your business in a personal way (no matter how hard the face you show to the outside world and staff!). It’s then, that stress that you are being caused, the sleepless nights the poor coping strategies or delay or distract that is causing damage to the business even when you are not consciously thinking about the dispute.

Directors and board members all feel the stress and strain of disputes and for each of them there is a very simple message, call Northwest Mediation today and let’s discuss how we can resolve your commercial issue or your civil claim by mediation.

Stuart Rudner’s excellent article on the benefits of mediation in Ontario is worth a read, he reports that following the state bringing in mandatory mediation in 1999 and within only two years the pilot scheme had seen 85% positive impact on cases with a reduction in case numbers, timescales and positive early settlements. This led to the scheme being adopted across the state and now Stuart is calling for the next obvious step, mandatory mediation across Canada.

We wish Stuart well and can only agree that more needs to be done to make mediation part of the legal process, whilst remaining distinct from simply hard-faced negotiations.

With landlord and tenant cases reaching the headlines this week it’s worth noting that Sacramento is already turning its own rental market crisis over to the mediators.

In proposing the move to mediation Sacramento City Vice Mayor Eric Guerra said “We want to find better ways to resolve and assist tenants with understanding their rights”

Seeing a much more sensible approach than the current one proposed in the UK of simply banning no fault evictions landlords would be able to offer 18 month ASTs with any landlord with five or more properties being obliged to go to mediation if rent increased by more than 6%, with the increase put on hold until mediation had been concluded.

There are so many situations 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 neighbourhood 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

neighbour mediation; commercial dispute resolution; civil mediation; commercial dispute; corporate dispute; commercial mediator; family mediation; inheritance mediation; property mediator; civil mediator; civil litigation; fast track mediation; injury mediation

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