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  • Writer's pictureEd Johnson

Mediation, arbitration, war and cold feet

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.

It’s been lockdown here at Northwest Mediation as one of the kids tested positive for covid however all are well and still functioning and we’re able to continue mediation services without interruption.

If you want to see what an exercise in mediation, negotiation, threat and arbitration looks like on the world stage have a look at the various agreements, quasi agreements, vague promises and actions coming out of COP26. As with any negotiated outcome the proof is in the pudding(s) but hopefully some movement was made that will at least slow down the death of the future.

Meanwhile in Africa which by all models is likely to be plunged into unbearable heat in the next 50 years the African Union is continuing mediation with Ethiopia’s opposition and ruling parties. The AU sent President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya to meet with parties this week.

The US is backing efforts in the hope of avoiding escalation and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will be taking a three day trip to the area to further bolster talks.

As with many talks the US is not just there to offer assistance carrots but has the stick of potential sanctions which it has threatened to enforce against both sides in the dispute. There are already thousands of deaths and millions of displacements from the conflict raging in the country and fears of an attack on the capital and potential for the conflict spreading round the horn.

Currently the government insists on recognition by the opposition forces before entering talks and the opposition alliance is demanding aid be let into their territory as a precursor to talks.

All disputes have long lasting effects on those who took part, those who come after and those who looked on and non more so when the conflict is a civil war, hopefully the AU and US efforts will bring peace and stability.

Completely changing tack (though still with lasting consequences) to workplace mediations, we’ve done quite a few here at Northwest Mediation, they tend to start long before we can get involved but our work with staff and owners/managers in several companies have led to changes in procedures from how grievances are dealt with, how communication is handled and how staff react to changes in work conditions.

Prevention is always better than cure and Anna Verasai in this article discusses how mediation works as a concept in the work place.

Now whilst we don’t offer free mediation work (we have to feed the covid-ridden children you know) we are still far more cost effective (cheap) and quick to respond than any court or tribunal, we also work at your pace explain as we go give you time to consider your position and according to the feedback leave clients wishing they had come to mediation months before.

What have you got to lose? If you have a work place dispute and want to avoid solicitors’ fees, wasting hours in court and preparation only to come out with a decision you could have made by agreement. I’ve been both sides of that battle no one wins, even if staff are retained there’s a perceived ongoing resentment from other staff or managers and for the staff member if (as so many do) they end up leaving a job they enjoyed a single sum pay out is not necessarily the answer they were after, especially in cases we have worked on where it is a fundamental change in approach which they were trying to achieve and not a cash reward.

Cold Feet in mediation is discussed in this article, we had an example this week of getting close to the joint session when one party got cold feet.

It is difficult but not unusual to find clients wax and wane on their investment into the process but when they pull out after hours of work by the referrer and the mediator it is frustrating.

We try to prep clients as much as we can and let them know that we will ensure they are as comfortable as possible, and as discussed in this article although mediation isn’t as hard to deal with as court it is still new to many and a little arduous. However spending a few hours with a mediator to deal with an issue that has been a problem for months or years is time well spent, as no time in mediation means no resolution at all and possible further years of the same problem.

Without discussing the details of the case this week it felt very much like our failure to persuade clients of the long term benefits of mediating their dispute. We did nothing unusual and our reflection encourages us that we did all we could in the circumstances including putting ourselves at some significant discomfort, of course we may have then had to cancel because of the covid situation here but we will never know.

If you do want to mediate or discuss mediation or feel like pulling out once the process is running we will always talk to you about your feelings but in this instance we were unfortunately not given that opportunity and so the dispute rumbles on.

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 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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