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  • Writer's pictureEd Johnson

Innovate don't hibernate -Mediation in the time of the virus

With the limited access to courts (and in some countries closed completely closed) mediation is the only way to go! 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.

Teddy Snyder has much the same sort of clarion call here to those in her neck of the woods, Northwest Mediation uses Zoom, Whereby, Skype and FaceTime as well as the phone and emails to resolve disputes so please do not feel that you cannot contact us as there can be no physical meeting.

And employment disputes will definitely be on the rise as there are concerns in some sectors about staff being unfairly laid off or incorrectly forced to travel into work.

Mediation works and it is not always a negotiation based on just financial remedies. In this case, Jacqueline Lewis, sued the police department for discrimination after she was fired for refusing to undergo a taser shock as part of her training.

But after several months of mediation she agreed to drop the case. We normally say mediation is quicker than court so you may be surprised to see that this took months but sometimes it take s a while for the parties to get to a point where they can agree a solution with which they can live.

Personal feuds can also be seen heading to mediation in the midst of the pandemic, here, James Dolan (CEO of Madison Square Garden and owner of the Knicks - that’s the New York Knickerbockers to those in the UK, a basketball team) and former player Charles Oakley are off to mediation, by remote means of course.

Oakley was thrown out of Madison Square Garden after an altercation with security, was arrested and banned (by Dolan) from the Garden. Oakley sued for wrongful imprisonment and defamation and that case was dismissed in February. He is appealing the dismissal but before the appeal the parties have been ordered to attend mediation.

Dolan had previously been criticised on social media by Oakley for his treatment of Spike Lee when the film director, writer, producer, actor had attended the Garden so there was already an amount of needle between the two before the incident which saw Oakley being barred from the Garden.

Practically of course court matters may slow down due to the spread of Covid-19 and where parties need to gather details before mediation it is not surprising that in some cases, like this one, that more time is needed.

Allstate (the group name for insurance companies Allstate Insurance Company, Allstate Fire and Casualty Insurance Company, Allstate Indemnity Company and Allstate Property and Casualty Insurance Company) have been granted more time for their mediation ahead of Charles Isaly and his company Auto Glass America LLC (AGA)’s application to dismiss Allstate’s claim for lack of jurisdiction.

Allstate’s said “Due to growing concerns and workplace adaptions caused by the Novel Coronavirus, it is taking longer than expected to gather the information needed and to draft a response that addresses all the issues raised in the motion..Allstate therefore requests an extension to file a response. This extension will have no effect on any other court ordered deadlines and will not prejudice any party.”

As we have reported previously the original claim arises from alleged abuse of insured parties rights when hiring AGA for wind screen repairs and concurrently obtaining assignments of benefits from the insured. As we understand it, obliging insureds to use AGA and then giving AGA the direct right to claim back from Allstar the price of the work and repairs.

And in case you need a tutorial on what mediating by remote web cam will look like here’s Clare Fowley’s guide to Zoom mediating. (There may be no one in the usual meeting room as per the picture but there's always a ability to reach out online).

Clare leaves the best comment to number 5 “Breath” ie take a break admit if the IT is letting you down or it’s obvious a party isn’t hearing or understanding, all the practical stuff we do in mediation but with the added potential for the internet to cause problems.

The coronavirus is a stimulus for change and shouldn’t be seen as a problem restricting those of us who work for the public in resolving issues, it’s an opportunity. Get online, try out talking to a couple of people at the same time it’s not difficult (if my mother can do it then nothing should stop you coming online to speak to Northwest Mediation about resolving your dispute).

With Skype, Zoom and Whereby freely available and emails an almost constant form of communication we have thus far seen little impact on our work from the current health crisis. We anticipate continuing to increase online work but as that has always been at least as successful as physical meeting for mediations the current limits on movement should not put anyone off.

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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