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  • Writer's pictureEd Johnson

Compulsory or voluntary mediation?

With the continued backlog of cases mediation is even more so now than ever the best choice to find a resolution for your dispute. Get your dispute resolved now while you can’t go anywhere you can really concentrate on what’s important and what deserves your time and energy.


Northwest Mediation continues to use Zoom, Skype and FaceTime as well as the phone and emails to resolve disputes should we add we also do live in person mediation too! So please do not feel that you cannot contact us if you would like to mediate but wish to do so remotely.


There’s a continued discussion in mediation circles about mandatory mediation whether a change of word to mandatory referral is the way to go, but in Singapore noise complaints will now be mandatorily sent to mediation. Edwin Tong, Second Minister for Law said of the proposals “Mediation can preserve and often even strengthen the relationship between neighbours, by providing them with a platform in the hands of a very good trained mediator to resolve the disputes amicably in very much a win-win fashion.”


Talking to your neighbours can be all it takes for them to appreciate the impact their behaviour is having on you, I’ve seen it many times in neighbour mediation where the one making the noise suddenly appreciates that their neighbour wasn’t just being grump they were genuinely ill or inconvenienced, and it works the other way too. In one case a party came to understand with my help that the noise was the coping mechanism because the neighbour was lonely, which led to an open discussion about how they could help each other.


The aim in Singapore is that an early uptake (by compulsion) of mediation will help disputes resolve quicker, the 80% of cases that already settle at mediation suggest that if more people took the option cases are likely to reach resolution earlier, cheaper and with less stress.


Part of the request from MPs in response to the plan has been to request mediation takes place closer to the parties and at more convenient times. Something I’ve always tried to do is meet near clients (if not online) and to work weekends and evenings so that you can always work towards a settlement.


On the other hand there are times when compulsory mediation is the wrong way to go, in Colorado the state’s supreme court has ruled that in criminal cases the lower courts cannot insist the parties go to mediation.


I’m not shocked, criminal cases whilst possible to mediate are often traumatic for the victim of the original crime and under such pressure not true free decision is likely to be made, which is one of the key aims of a mediated settlement.


Likewise as stated in the judgment the prosecution cannot and should not be forced into making a more beneficial offer in a plea bargain, now of course the flip side of this argument is that any decision is voluntary so neither side would have to offer or accept any “deal” provided they entered mediation discussed the case they would have complied with an obligatory attendance. But the State Supreme Court makes it clear that the court must not make obligatory referral to mediation it’s an option for the parties not to be forced upon them.


Meanwhile the strike news continues here and abroad. In this case the GM employees' union in New Delhi and motor giant GM are voluntarily entering mediation talks even as GM searches for a buyer for its factory.


The GM Employees’ union wants a better offer than is currently tabled, for their workers to transfer with the sale or better pay-outs if they are to lose their employment. The union wants GM to honour a previous commitment to offer the best voluntary separation scheme to employees, the company has offered an average of 3.5 years salary payment but not the amounts which were arguably available under their previous commitment.

The union is prepared to discuss a new offer if one is made.


GM’s corporate affairs’ executive director George Svigoss said “We went into this mediation really focused on showing up with good intent to reaching out (to the Union). We are also heartened that an independent mediator is overseeing these discussions, so they can look at positions at each side and form a view. How bona fide our position is in terms of the separation package is well proven…We have sought constructive discussion over this package for over two years. We are in mediation not because we haven’t put forward a package - we wanted an outcome all along the way.”


“We’ve also made very clear from the start that any sale of the site does not include transfer of employees…We continue to explore options for sale. We think [the factory] is state-of-the start and has strong supply chain and transport linkages around it. We can’t respond to discussions around potentially interested parties, but we are continuing to explore our options".


It is hoped that a South Korean car manufacturer is looking to buy the plant but so far there are no concrete proposals.


Should mediation become mandatory? I think referral to mediation should be in virtually all cases, no one makes it an obligation to take a deal offered or to make any concessions but mediation remains one way to explore your options and your potential dangers should you choose to plough on to court, or simply continue behaving in the way you have previously. I charge nothing for you to find out if Northwest Mediation can help so give me a call.


The three pillars of mediation remain it’s voluntary (except apparently when it won’t be anymore), it’s confidential, the mediator is independent, by using those pillars to support your work the parties keep control, save costs, save time and energy and reduce stress. Finally this one is mediation, mediator jointly appointed, areas of discussion agreed and intention to be bound by the outcome.


In person or via electronic media 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 so you can get out choose a different path, not quite the road less travelled but perhaps the path less adversarial. 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.


There are so many situations which could have been resolved by early intervention of mediation it continues to surprise me the lengths the public 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, civil mediation or inheritance, wills and probate arguments contact me at Northwest Mediation on 0161 667 4418 or via email at ed.johnson@northwestmediation.co.uk

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

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