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Group Action Mediation

Many years ago I was tangentially connected to the work for the claimant’s in the Factor VIII blood products cases. At the time no class action had been allowed this side of the pond so the claimants were working with the US lawyers who were able to take class action on their behalves.

I mention the cases as class actions are ideally suited for mediation, the attached article discusses US Attorneys Pierce Atwood opening a Class Action service specifically for mediation.

The Boston partner leading the service will be Donald R Frederico, who, like me, has sat on both sides of the claim fence so (like me) is ideally suited to help parties find a mediated settlement.

Specifically of class actions Frederico says “Class action litigation combines many things I like about practicing law. It is intellectually challenging and procedurally complex, and brings to bear interpretations of a complex set of case law, including many Supreme Court precedents…You have an opportunity for vigorous courtroom advocacy in connection with the merits of the case, the class certification motion, and often the admissibility of expert testimony in a variety of fields of knowledge.”

Class actions are like any other case only amplified by the number of parties so they are extremely costly, time-consuming and carry a fundamental litigation risk.

Mediation helps by letting both sides appreciate those risks in a blame free environment and steers the parties to an agreement. Recognising that some companies will run the risk of the costs as a matter of principle Frederico says “Most class actions settle, and many of them settle after mediation. As a trial lawyer, I often don’t want my cases to settle, but as a business advisor, I recognize that a class action settlement often may be in my client’s best interest.” As I said last week the personal is at the heart of the business case.

Valentin Gapontsev the Russian-American CEO of Oxford (Massachusetts) based IPG Photonics, which manufactures lasers, is to try entering mediation with the US Treasury to try to resolve the issue surrounding the Tresaury’s decision to designate him “a Russian Oligarch”.

Such a designation comes as a result of the nattily titled Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act which aims to punish American “enemies” including Russia and North Korea and has lost the company vital contracts.

Gapontsev argues his wealth only comes from his inventions linked to his company and his inventions (initially designed in Russia) and not as part of or through any links to the Russian Government.

Gapontsev says the only involvement he ever had with President Vladimir Putin was when he received his award for science from the President/Prime Minister/President.

In other Russian mediation news following the work of Russian mediators two prisoners have been released by Israel and sent back to Syria.

Russia had earlier this month returned to Israel the remains of Zachary Baumel, an Israeli soldier who went missing in action in 1982 during a tank battle in Lebanon.

Following the return of Baumel’s remains the Syrian government then applied pressure to Israel for the release of its own soldiers.

Following further work by Russian Ahmed Khamis and Zidan Taweel, were handed over to officials from Damascus.

Minister for regional cooperation for Israel Tzachi Hanegbi whilst denying this was a prisoner exchange said “If with a gesture like this we leave the Syrians with less of a sour taste, then that is a positive thing” he expressed a hope that the steps were the first to the return of more Israeli prisoners of war from Syria.

My eye was caught this week by an article in EJInsight (not EJ as in Ed Johnson, well not this Ed Johnson Mediator anyway) by Neville Saroney QC, describing his change of attitude to mediation in all contexts and away from his belief of it being “verbal Valium”.

It’s an interesting take on how his retraining as a mediator altered both his understanding and respect for the process and those of us involved, it mirrors the change I made a few years ago when I went from constant litigator to mediator, the journey wasn’t easy but the results are rewarding and the proportion of cases which reach an agreed solution are incredibly high, with Northwest Mediation over 90% of cases reach a resolution on the day of mediation with additional matters resolving shortly thereafter as a result of the work done by Northwest Mediation (and the clients) at the mediation meetings.

The open nature of discussions whilst remaining confidential allows all sides to engage fully in the process and understand the needs of all involved ultimately reaching a conclusion which both sides can live with and move on.

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, wills & probate 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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