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  • Writer's pictureEd Johnson

Mediation - developments during the pandemic

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 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.

I always hold Ireland out as one of the countries where mediation has been accepted in a more mainstream manner than the UK. It’s unsurprising then that when Clare Bus (who have operated the rural bus service for many years) are coming to the end of the end of their own negotiations with the National Transport Authority (NTA) they have asked for a mediator to assist (Northwest Mediation stands ready).

Ger Hoey (chairperson for Clare Bus) has described the company as being cocooned and is using the Irish Government emergency covid-19 funding to pay staff at the moment, however when that finishes the company could be in trouble.

At the end of March the NTA tired of its wrangling over pay with Clare Bus appointed two new operators to run the local services.

Now the board of Clare Accessible Transport (CAT) has approached CEO at NTA, Anne Graham, for an extension of time (given the current pandemic) to resolve the financial dispute by selecting a mediator to work with all parties.

The letter says that “[a]fter 18 years operating the Rural Transport Programme (RTP) in Clare in a cost effective manner and providing universal access to all passengers we would welcome the opportunity to meet with you and to discuss and resolve the issues… and a proposal that a mediator be appointed to limit any knock on effect on a wider rural community,”

Cathal Crowe Fianna Fáil Deputy has said that given the impending end of the government crisis funding “there is huge concern that it’s the end of the road for their company, their jobs and the Clare Bus service as we know it…I have requested a teleconference meeting between myself, the NTA and Clare Accessible Transport… I have been told that because there is no contractual relationship between Clare Bus, it would be ‘inappropriate’ … This quite simply is not good enough. Clare Bus has provided an essential service for this county for many years and already, we’ve seen a serious decline. The NTA needs to buck up and take responsibility on this matter immediately.”

Use of a mediator makes sense, in circumstances where there are no formal contractual or business relationships mediators can help parties see benefits to working together and steer them away from costly court arguments.

You’ll recall we blogged some time ago about the ongoing mediation at Ohio State University and the allegations against Richard Strauss former doctor for the athletic team.

The independent investigation concluded last year that Strauss abused numerous students and that the “university administration failed to appropriately respond at the time”.

President Michael V. Drake said “The university of decades ago failed these individuals – our students, alumni and members of the Buckeye community…Nothing can undo the wrongs of the past, but we must do what we can today to work toward restorative justice...Our focus will always be on the survivors. We know it took great courage for them to come forward, and we are grateful”.

Now a settlement has been achieved via mediation of nearly $41 million with individual amounts based on the impact of the actions on each claimant.

Rick Schulte representing the claimants said “Working with Ohio State, we established an independent confidential process to evaluate each claim individually. The process will account for wide variations in abuse and provide a pathway for survivor healing. One hundred percent of 162 survivors in this settlement decided against further litigation and agreed to participate. The participation rate speaks to the quality of this settlement”

100% involvement in a mediation which leads to settlement? That’s an excellent example of how, in even the most harrowing cases, mediation can help injured parties suffer less stress and save costs. Whilst the time from abuse to settlement is in no way short (the cases dating back to the 70s) the resulting mediation is still shorter and less agonising than reliving the case in court process by giving evidence in public.

There remain a number of outstanding claims against the university who said “Ohio State continues to participate in good faith in the mediation process with the survivors involved in the remaining lawsuits, and remains committed to a resolution with plaintiffs, including a monetary resolution".

Further evidence of the acceptance of mediation is seen this week with the news that Belarus is adopting the Singapore Convention on mediation (more properly the United Nations Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation).

Andrei Ganchuk member of the Standing Commission on State Building, Local Government and Regulations acknowledging the wider impact of the convention said “This will help promote Belarus as a country that seeks closer cooperation in international trade, which is very important for us taking into consideration our efforts to diversify exports and enter new markets… We are interested in improving the system, increasing its transparency, streamlining procedures and making them cheaper. After all, any litigation entails significant costs”

Meanwhile following the Robert Jenrick’s (UK Housing Secretary) announcement that landlord’s were expected to mediate with clients during the pandemic when rent fails to be paid. Flat-Fair has adopted the Resolve platform to enable decisions to be made.

Tenants should not be bound to use that one platform (IMHO) as I read the reports it is very much a one sided plan to simply agree payments not an actual genuine mediation, however any steps to prevent people being made homeless is to be welcomed.

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 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 Liverpool, a dispute resolution for your family in Cheshire, 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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