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  • Writer's pictureEd Johnson

It's mediation, Jim, but not as we know it

With the limited access to courts and lawyers 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 so please do not feel that you cannot contact us as there are limits on physical meetings.

More thoughts this week on the virtual mediation, eye strain notwithstanding (and the FMC’s insistence that it’s only a temporary measure) virtual mediation is going to continue to grow.

Andrew Nadolna’s comments in this article cover the benefits of breaking what might have traditionally been a one day mediation into several shorter pieces, in family mediation that practice is common and can be useful, in commercial mediation I find the argument less convincing.

Most civil or commercial disputes need concentration on the issues, to have both the mediator and the parties take long breaks of days in between makes keeping up the momentum far more difficult, if the parties want to break things into several shorter sessions (or as in some Northwest Mediation has dealt with a few very long sessions) then that’s fine but doing an hour here or there makes the work far more like just another case in the machinery, something I’ve always baulked at as it feels like much less care can be given to the issues the parties have if you are effectively stringing out the process. Where then is the argument that mediation is quicker, more cost effective and accessible? And as I have often been told by clients (whether family or civil) not having to keep going over the issues in separate weekly meetings helps focus on getting to an agreement.

So whilst I agree one of the benefits of virtual mediation is not having to have everyone in the room where it happens most clients so far prefer to deal with the issue in one concentrated period and not throw away their shot.

Great article in terms of why mediation should be the go-to for most cases, in Western Australia less than 2% of court cases get to trial the 98% are settled or discontinued.

The figures are similar if not quite so stark in the English and Welsh Courts. And as this piece is headlined early mediation you will be unsurprised to learn it suggests the earlier the better before all costs have been spent on preparing a case for trial.

I used to be amazed at how two parties would fight tooth and nail to trial and then settle once barristers seemed to effectively determine the outcome between themselves and then negotiate and persuade clients to settle. The reality was that the parties had never faced the reality of court, never been taken through each other’s arguments carefully and forced to look the chance of losing in the eye.

That’s not a criticism of lawyers, but in practice they advise clients as best they can on the best way to run and form their claim or defence. Mediation looks at both sides, helps the parties see the weaknesses of their own arguments and the strengths of the other side’s case but also importantly helps clients look at the reality of a long drawn out adversarial court case and ultimately court hearing.

It’s one of the reasons I became a mediator, why make clients fight when they could settle and move on with life.

And as I have said before it’s never too early to mediate, except when it is. That is to say always consider mediation early but there are sometimes good reasons to wait sometimes to at least obtain some evidence, it’s not necessary but some clients like to have the back up of data or statements and that’s fine but don’t wait until the last minute to try to find a solution, by that time one or both sides’ costs are potentially more than the claim is worth!

And whilst it’s never too early to consider mediation it’s also possible to keep coming back as situations change.

In Lebanon in order to avoid the country’s economic collapse Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros al-Rai is resuming mediation talks to form a government.

Rai is meeting again with the country’s president Michel Aoun to try to move forward the stalled formation of the cabinet due to differences with the Prime Minister (designate) Saad Hariri.

Differences mainly revolve around the constitution of the cabinet but have meant that no working government has been able to form for six months.

A government source has said “Patriarch Rai will pursue his efforts he began earlier this year over the Cabinet crisis. President Aoun has welcomed this matter…The patriarch did not propose a clear-cut initiative, but it seems he will pursue his efforts with Prime Minister Saad Hariri and President Aoun in a bid to reconcile their [conflicting] viewpoints with the aim of forming a new government as soon as possible,”

Talks are going well so the hope is that further mediation efforts will reach a satisfactory conclusion for the country which is in dire economic straits.

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 the tunnel and see the light. 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 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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