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  • Writer's pictureEd Johnson

Happy new mediation year

With the continued backlog of cases mediation is now more than ever the best choice to find a resolution for your dispute.  Get your dispute resolved now so 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.

A new year, no resolutions other than to get through this year, it coincides with some planned big moves for me and the business, more of which later, and quite a mile stone birthday for me (as well as both my kids).  Hopefully this year also sees the change in government and perhaps a more holistic less selfish approach from on top which may even filter down.

As I look out the window at yet another wet day I do begin to wonder when the sun will return to our benighted isle (meteorologically, metaphorically and politically) but as with Pandora’s box hope remains.  And this year when there are so many elections around the globe hope will play a big role.

And hope brings lots of people to mediation, we hear today of more mediation efforts in the middle east but on a more client based level there are few people who come to mediation wanting it to fail (there’s plenty who come with a healthy dose of scepticism but no one tries to derail the process on purpose).  For me most clients have some form of common goal (even if sometimes it is just getting out of the mediation or shutting me up, but whatever works) and finding those cross overs is key to moving clients onward.

And who wouldn’t want to come to mediation when the court backlog is as bad as this, yes I know it’s talking about the criminal courts in the main but actually the civil and family courts are not exactly steaming ahead.

Clients often seem surprised when you tell them that whilst mediation (in family) may take a few sessions over a couple of months to reach resolution (and yes I can do it faster with full engagement where necessary) it’s still months quicker and so much cheaper (and less stressful) than court.

I forgot when I set this page up that I did a comparative of costs on one page (I’ve updated it) and it still holds true. One client told me that they’d been quoted £15,000 to go to a fully contested financial hearing.  It will not shock you that via mediation (which took about 8 weeks start to finish over 4 sessions) it cost that client and the other party less than half of that.

But no you go queue with the rest of the “day in court” demanders if you like.

The benefits are driven home in this article from Toronto setting out the role of the mediator as independent assistance (but not arbitrator) who will encourage, cajole and lead you forward always at your own pace but inexorably towards a positive conclusion. Often one you would get at court or something darn close to it, and so much so that really the draw of court and apparent “winning” becomes a nil score draw.  Why put yourself and others through an entrenching process only to go back again in a few months for another issue.

Black and white issues are difficult, because parents might want a name change, yes you can fudge a double or triple barrelled name but if one does and the other doesn’t it is very hard to find a way forward that doesn’t feel like one party has got what they want.  So how do you deal with these?  You help the parties communicate, because this will be one issue, if every time they have a yes/no decision they have to go to court then they become a lawyers best client, I’ve known generations of families who have a revolving door at the solicitors settle one issue open the next keep the money (often legal aid back in the day) flowing into the lawyers hands and not reach any satisfactory outcome or make a lasting change in how people deal with each other.

That’s sometimes what we mean by opening communication channels just giving clients techniques on how they react, respond and reply to issues.  Taking that all important deep breath and stepping back without just firing off the first text response that comes to mind.

I like that the article covers inheritance mediation as well, still one of the best areas to work in, no one wants to fall out after someone has died but it happens, and often as not it’s nobody’s fault (though often I see some poorly drafted wills which could do with being addressed).

Over in India the mediation Act as I’ve mentioned before is now well underway having come into effect at the end of October 2023 (or last year as we get used to calling it) it’s a reminder that most countries now see mediation as not just an effective tool but as the most effective way of resolving disputes.

Making it not compulsory or even participation compulsory but by showing mediation works encourages everyone into the process.  If there can be more awareness (and mediation week is fast approaching) of the availability and successful outcomes more people will first go to mediation, but of course that faces the problem with lawyers thinking they are losing fees and not wanting to refer, or if they do they refer in-house which is never truly unbiased. 

To be blunt they will lose income but they’re doing a better job for their client if they refer to mediation. And sooner rather than later please, if your client has entrenched themselves over numerous hearings the work to bring them back to co-operative thinking is far more difficult.

The article lists some of the issues with the Act (mainly which types of dispute could have been included and weren’t) and the reasons behind those may be rather more numerous than space allows but I suspect vested interests in some and perhaps in others different ADR was available and working.

OK let’s not get cancelled.  So I was brought up by a vicar but am pretty much agnostic these days, I have don’t claim to know better than you if there’s a watchmaker and if there is what flavour they are, but I respect your right to believe what you want so long as you don’t foist it on anyone else (talk to me sometime about my daughter being obliged to go to mass at her sixth form college if you want a frank explanation).

So this article advocates Christian mediation, on reading there’s not a lot of difference to secular mediation in fact if you remove the word Christian from the article you have a straightforward discussion about mediation.  I would always worry about leaning too heavily into faith as it can be off putting to those with none or those of a different flavour, much the same way as I tend not to lean too heavily into “sports” talk as a way of engaging with some clients, not everyone cares if Stockport County beats Wrexham last year but find themselves trailing this so just keep the VIP of mediation without adding a faith element, imho is the way to go.

The three pillars of mediation remain it’s voluntary (at the moment), 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. 

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

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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