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  • Writer's pictureEd Johnson

Happy New Year Mediation News

Well Happy New Year to all fans of mediation and mediation related news (really, both of you).

Here’s looking forward, with 2020 vision, to a year of change in our business as we increase our uptake of family mediations with additional training under the auspices of the Family Mediation Council and the College of Mediators and also in the industry to the uptake we hope we will continue to see in civil mediation.

It’s been a busy few weeks over the course of the holiday season for mediators around the world.

Recognition by some courts (hello Manchester CC) of the benefits of mediation in civil proceedings now extends to the 5th District Appellate court in Ohio.

Judge William Hoffman admitted that after initial scepticism of the benefit of mediation at appeal level, a “winner and loser” having already been determined, he and his colleagues now saw the benefit of mediation at all stages of litigation including post lower court hearing.

The appellate court will by spring this year have brought in across all the courts a mediation process. Recognising the benefits Hoffman said “stress is reduced for clients while saving money spent on preparing transcripts and paying attorneys as well as costs associated with oral arguments and filing briefs”.

That argument may sound familiar to you as it is the case I make every week at the end of the blog, less stress, less money and saving time are all part of the benefit of mediation (appeal court or not).

The Ohio procedure will cover contract, commercial transactions, employment disputes, foreclosure, personal injury actions, family matters (property, spousal and child support and arrangements), workers’ compensation cases and inheritance/probate matters. Again if that list of areas of mediation sounds familiar its because you see it here every week as the areas Northwest Mediation covers.

Up to a 60 day stay will be permitted by the courts for mediation to take place in all the appeal courts which covers Ashland, Coshocton, Delaware, Fairfield, Guernsey, Holmes, Knox, Licking, Morgan, Morrow, Muskingum, Perry, Richland, Stark and Tuscarawas counties.

That’s a positive news story for the start of the otherwise rather troubling start to the new year, I refer of course to the self proclaimed great mediator and Tango skinned leader of the free world Trump. Having tried to commence world war three in a bid to keep his electorate happy countries across Europe are scrambling to act as mediators between the US and Iran.

You will recall we talked previously about efforts to keep the 2015 nuclear agreement in place but following the US recent actions the chances are that the deal is dead and buried along with Qassem Soleimani.

Iran announced following the air strike it would abandon its limits on enriching uranium, code for “we’re now full steam ahead making nukes”.

EU diplomats said “The deal is all but dead, but we will do everything to slow and limit the proliferation slope that has been taken and try to save what can be saved”, the German Foreign Ministry said the deal was not quite dead and that allies would be doing all they could to keep the deal alive.

It is often the case that parties in any mediation say “last offer” or “take it or leave it”, that’s rarely the end of the process and I let such threats wash over me in most cases, while parties are in the room(s) there remains a possible resolution. And even when they leave my experience is most parties then come to an agreement shortly after.

I’ve been doing a lot of TV watching during the holidays including the excellent New Amsterdam on Amazon Prime (if you haven’t seen it, and are as old as me it’s more St Elsewhere than ER). Not only have I adopted Max Goodwin's opening line "How can I help?" for new clients but it reminds me is how grateful we should be in the UK for the NHS, not having to find funds to pay for all our various operations and treatments over the years.

In Texas there is now a live portal for mediation for disputes over health bills. Within 20 days of payment (not before, sadly) by the health plan to the provider a request for resolution can be lodged and it will begin a process of mediation to try and reach resolution without litigation becoming involved. As our NHS is probably stealth sold off piecemeal in the next five years this may become an area of mediation we become sadly more familiar with in the UK.

More success stories for mediation out of Shanghai (you’ll recall Shanghai is a key player in the promotion of mediation across all sectors).

In a release last week the courts there confirmed that local courts' litigation-mediation centres had dealt with 50% of the civil and commercial disputes at first instance with over a third of them settling through the mediation process.

North of the border in Scotland the government has announced the formation of the ‘Scottish Dispute Resolution Delivery Group’ to address reforms within the legal system to make mediation the normal first step. 2020 is also the Scottish Year of Mediation.

MSP Margaret Mitchell had previously brought a members bill to begin the process and now with the formation of the Delivery Group the steps are now in place which if followed through will see mediation at the heart of Scottish court process, an element of compulsion will be involved in the change in the law necessary but by the description no more than it is already south of the border in family matters, so as to avoid taking away one of the three pillars which makes mediation work. The new process of court-initiated mediation will mean that the parties to all civil proceedings are required to answer a questionnaire assessing the suitability of mediation for the case and attend a mandatory ‘Mediation Information Session’ (the equivalent of MIAMs in the Family arena in England and Wales).

As ever Northwest Mediation stands ready to travel to our potential future home country to assist, we can but hope the courts south of the border take similar steps or indeed any steps as set out in the previous recommendations Civil Justice Council’s 2018 ‘ADR and Civil Justice’ report.

More good news with the mediated resolution of the County Carroll schools’ dispute we reported on last year, the proposed solution was ratified by a unanimous vote, sadly it’s reported in the US and the access to the report may is limited from the UK servers so apologies if the link doesn’t work for you.

And so far mediation headline of the year goes to the UFO Demanding mediation.

It’s the UFO cabin crew (sort of) union in this case not ET, and they have agreed to suspend strike action while mediation is attempted over pay and conditions. The union went on strike for three delays leading up to new year but following further discussions has agreed to attempt mediation to avoid further disruption to the industry.

Lufthansa has said that it does not recognise UFO as a union and that any strikes would be unlawful, however it is clear that nobody wants to see the industrial action carry on and that the best way forward is to reach an accommodation via mediation. Lufthansa released a statement saying “We are pleased that the date of 16 January has been confirmed by Ufo for further discussions. Lufthansa continues to expect good solutions and prospects for the approximately 22,000 cabin crew members. Our goal, therefore, remains agreeing on an arbitration with Ufo.”

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.

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, civil mediation or inheritance, wills and 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 wills probate mediation; property mediator; civil mediator; civil litigation; fast track mediation; injury mediation

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