One of the most frustrating things about being a mediator is the small recognition it receives as a career or indeed as an option for those in dispute.
It’s currently Family Mediation Awareness Week, but you have to google that phrase and add the year to actually get anywhere near the page relevant to the awareness week.
Even within the press release there is acceptance by John Taylor, head of the Family Mediation Council that “Whilst family mediation clearly works, there are still low levels of awareness meaning families are still missing out.
This is a particular concern where families are eligible for free mediation, via the legal aid scheme. Taking place from 20th-24th January 2020, Family Mediation Awareness Week aims to raise awareness of family mediation and how it can help separating families manage their issues collaboratively and productively. You can find out more about the campaign by visiting www.familymediationweek.org.uk.”
That’s the issue, mediation, not just in a family setting but in commercial mediation, works. It remains the cheapest and quickest solution to many disputes that traditionally go straight into the court system (or if not straight into via a short period of sabre rattling between lawyers).
I’m hoping that this year there may be some awareness broadcast outside of the industry but at the moment despite hours of dedicated watching BBC Breakfast and listening to Woman’s Hour nothing, no awareness I could spot.
So in an attempt to boost the signal here are some other mediation tales from around the globe.
It was a few months ago we mentioned efforts in Ireland to arrange mediation for the family of Garda Tony Golden and finally a mediator has been agreed.
It’s a terrible case arising from Tony’s murder by Adrian Crevan Mackin. Tony was on duty attending the home of a victim of domestic violence where Mackin killed Tony, Mackin’s partner who had been the victim of his abuse, Siobhan Phillips, was wounded but survived.
Tony’s widow and children are seeking compensation from the Garda for the negligent actions which exposed Tony to being vulnerable in the circumstances. Hopefully the mediation talks will resolve the claims and allow Mrs Golden and her family to begin to rebuild their lives.
Staying in Ireland (and another excuse to use my photos from last February’s trip to Dublin) and again back on a story we’ve covered before the President of the High Court has urged the representatives of the Dáil Public Accounts Committee to think again about mediation.
It’s a pretty clear directive that the court expects the Dáil to attend mediation when the judge says it is the best way to avoid “long and protracted” legal proceedings.
There may be (as the Dáil argues) legal principles in need of court decisions but that doesn’t prevent the case going to mediation. The result is confidential so there is no legal precedent set by any determination and the court is clearly going to hammer you on costs if you ignore the very strong “suggestion” that you attend mediation.
Remember the plough drivers’ strike? In St Louis, Minnesota (and no doubt against the backdrop of record snow falls north of the border in Canada) the six days of striking has ended with an agreement brokered by state mediators.
The union, Teamsters Local 320 , have confirmed settlement after a fifteen hour session of mediation by ratifying a three year contract with the state. A unanimous vote led to the acceptance of the terms finally proposed.
Pay increases of 2% across the board and 4% increases for new equipment operators plus increases over the lifetime of the contract meant that the union is back to work and another mediation is successfully concluded.
Incidentally, because mediations are confidential I don’t tend to mention Northwest Mediation's own successes in these blogs but don’t let that fool you into thinking they don’t happen, this week we mediated two matters to conclusion both of which had been running for a few years in the hands of lawyers and/or the courts. A day of mediation for each was sufficient to help the parties reach agreement and move on.
Following one mediation session between lawyers for Byram Township officials and the Sussex County Police Benevolent Association (PBA) the PBA have filed for payment of various prescription costs and medical treatment for a retired officer who suffers from pseudobulbar ALS.
It was change in the medical cover provided by the Township which led to the initial mediation on behalf of three former officers and whilst it may seem odd that following one mediation session and before the next (schedule for 24th) but often the case has to continue or one party feels the threat of proceedings is necessary to have leverage in a mediation.
Michael Bukosky lawyer for the retired officer said that “Denying a remedy of prescription coverage to [the claimant] effectively denies him any remedy whatsoever”
Byram Mayor Alex Rubenstein has said he remains positive about the outcome of the mediation and would like to have face to face discussions but at the moment the shuttle/caucus mediation is not allowing this to happen.
Often one party feels like a face to face may work better at resolving issues and it’s a delicate matter to determine when it is appropriate, sometimes one party is extremely reluctant because feelings run high and they fear their own or the other side’s outburst or worse intimidation but a genuine offer is rarely prevented by a mediator.
As we’ve said before choose to mediate early and resolve your issues effectively, timeously, and with less stress and costs than going to your solicitor. You have an interest in the outcome the sooner you get round the mediation table the quicker you can move forward and avoid the grilling a cross examination in court would put you through.
By having a deep and meaningful discussions with parties the mediator elicits what the true “red-lines” are and where there is the potential for compromise, it is with this structured period of reflection that the parties are then able to reach an accord.
The flexible nature of mediation and the possible outcomes make it an ideal way to resolve disputes in an ever changing world and the open nature of discussions in mediation whilst remaining confidential allows all sides to engage fully in the process and understand the needs of all involved allowing parties to reach a conclusion which both sides can live with and move on. Don't let the dispute run away from you keep control on the solution.
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 Liverpool, a dispute resolution for your family in Manchester, 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, civil mediation or inheritance, wills and probate arguments contact Northwest Mediation on 07931318347 or via email at email@example.com
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