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  • Writer's pictureEd Johnson

Masks off! Mediation

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.

I had the great pleasure of watching Joker live in concert with the live Halle orchestra at the Bridgewater Hall this week, as a film it’s a tough watch with its not so subtle commentary on what happens if we neglect problems in society, “you get what you pay for” - something those at COP26 are hopefully finally confronting, though probably not our mask and responsibility dodging PM.

The film also got me thinking about the other masks we wear, metaphoric as opposed to the actual life preserving covid stopping face masks we have become familiar with (and which weren’t much in evidence at the Hall by the way), the smiling mask of your Facebook post, the work mask of coping fine, paddling like mad but looking serene.

In mediation generally clients, whether represented or not, come into the session with one mask on. It might be the professional “cold face” (so beloved of Conn Iggulden’s historical characters), or the I’m your “best friend mask” or sometimes it’s the “this is a waste of time” mask.

Whatever mask is worn at the start it takes time and a good mediator to help people drop their masks, it is in part why mediation, whilst being quicker than any court process, does take several hours. You cannot get under the mask and find out what solutions people want, what areas they will compromise on and where their genuine red lines are without getting under the mask and speaking to the real person. Whether it’s a business, neighbour or family mediation matter it is always a person who makes the decision so getting to know them is vital in finding a way through the dispute and helping the other party understand who they are dealing with and why their situation has arisen.

In Louisiana the Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon is helping homeowners get past the corporate mask of insurance companies by setting up a mediation programme for anyone who had property damaged by Storm Ida and where their insurer is being, let’s call it, “difficult”.

After Rita and Katrina such schemes were made mandatory and whilst this one remains voluntary it is a key step towards keeping additional costs low for families already hard hit by the loss of house and home. Problems due to supply chains have added to the delays in getting repairs done and therefore homeowners back into their properties.

The insurer is obliged to pay the mediation fee ($600) and if an agreement is reached payment must be made within 10 days, far speedier than the months which have already passed since the hurricane hit.

Over in Oz this article talks about how to choose the right mediator with the certainty that you know they are trained and competent, at Northwest Mediation we only work with Civil Mediation Council qualified mediators or as the case requires Family Mediation Council mediators (I’m both). Though there will always be a place for non-professional mediators, religious leaders, teachers, MPS have been doing it for years to some level of success, when you want someone to help you get a resolution to your dispute you cannot go wrong choosing a professional mediator with the certainty they understand confidentiality, independence and the voluntary nature of mediation. As I said above only properly trained and experienced mediators are going to be able to see through your and your opponent’s mask to get to the heart of the issues and help you find a way to resolve them.

I’ve had my “definitely not crying” parent mask on this last few months while taking our eldest to various University campuses (including a rather damp trip to St Andrews in half term) so it’s good to hear about campuses adopting mediation as a method of resolving disputes. As Sharon Kendrick-Johnson (no relation) discusses here prior to mediation the only method of dispute resolution on campuses was likely to be a very formal, unnecessarily long process involving heads of faculty, deans and other non-qualified staff who all had their own positions to defend and, as nothing was confidential, would be obliged to wear their professional mask throughout. Such an approach is, in my view, damaging to all involved and unlikely to find a satisfactory resolution.

By helping students and the institutions involved reach a solution there is less chance of ongoing friction or worse violence erupting from a feeling of frustration that issues are not addressed in a timely manner or properly.

Should any universities wish to employ our services either in workshops for staff and students or resolving difficulties which have arisen please feel free to get in touch.

The three pillars of mediation remain it’s voluntary, 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 Stockport, a neighbourhood mediation in Liverpool, 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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