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  • Writer's pictureEd Johnson

Mediation - more important things

With the continued backlog of cases mediation is now more than ever the best choice to find a resolution for your dispute.  Get your dispute resolved now so 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 should we add we also do live in person mediation too!  So please do not feel that you cannot contact us if you would like to mediate but wish to do so remotely.


It’s been a melancholy week here at NWM towers.  I attended the funeral of the wife of one of my best friend’s, we’re only just into our 50s and whilst the illness that took her meant that her death was not unexpected it was no less sad for that anticipation.


The funeral was in Bedford, Bunyan country and I’m reminded of his quote that “you have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you”.  By that measure my friend’s wife had lived every day.


Sounds a bit left-field for my usual mercenary approach to work, of course I get paid for what I do but a lot of the time we spend in mediation is unpaid and often unrecognised though not unrewarded.  Helping people is what I got into the law for in the first place, brought up as a good Christian boy, helping without the expectation of reward was baked in at an early stage.  Sadly free doesn’t pay the bills but helping out people still is the aim of the profession of which I have ultimately become a part.




We start this week with two Harvard lecturers confirming that mediation skills are vital for new lawyers.


Preserving relationships, constructively acting rather than attacking and defending, reducing costs, risk and keeping everything confidential.  In this article David Hoffman and Audrey Lee discuss how critical the skills of a mediator are to lawyers. The vast majority of cases still resolve before court, sometimes sadly at the court door is the first time the two representatives (this side of the pond often barristers) are able to get heads together and find a solution.


Having that time pressure helps but by the time you’re at the court door nearly any chance to save time and money is gone so come to mediation earlier.

It’s interesting to read that the course remains hands on, this job (as I am reminded daily) is an ongoing learning process, nothing should take you by surprise but new ways of working and new challenges come at you out of the blue and you have to find space to flex your skills (not just your mind-muscles).


Wow another interview piece this week! Really engaging interview even on screen with the UN’s special envoy to Yemen, Hans Grundberg.


Hans has the job of not only dealing with two parties (as many mediations I deal with are) but with multiple parties, and multiple layers within those parties, Chris Voss talks about knowing you have the decision maker on the phone or in the room and Hans clearly has to work out who is the decision maker and who and to what level is anyone bound by those decisions whilst talking to multiple interested parties.


Trust building is key to his role, as it is with many clients.  I try not to overlook the first time you speak to a mediator is the first time we meet, do I exude confidence, do I make you nervous, one of the reasons careful thought goes into what I wear in mediation (no really it does) is so that I’m not in a three piece, I don’t want the outfit being what you focus on I want you to feel comfortable and confident with me. For Hans he has the backing of the UN so the parties know he is both serious and capable of assisting them in reaching solutions backed by (most of) the UN council.


I suppose whilst I could mediate without the badges of FMC and CMC I’m not sure that this would attract your confidence so I will continue to do so until such time as there are alternative structures for mediators.


Knowing that there are mediators who are out there working in the war zones and conflicts is quite humbling, not to detract from my client’s own conflicts but as with the event that I attended at the start of the week it is a bleak reminder that some things matter more than others.




Finally this week , and this is a subject close to the hearts of many, the teacher at the centre of the Great Barrington and Berkshire Hills Regional School District “book banning” controversy has appealed via their solicitor for mediation.


The issue arose after a complaint (and police raid!) over the reading of “Gender Queer: a memoir”, it sounds like the police went heavy handed in a search of students that resulted in the teacher taking time off for their health and now seeking redress for what sounds like an over-reaction to open thinking.


Sure I know some people (JKR we’re looking at you) can’t cope with gender and sexual fluidity and choice but banning kids reading about it is narrow minded and there are far better ways to deal with complaints than sending in the five-oh.


However the mediation element of the story sounds like a good approach, redress for the teacher should be considered and in the confidential arena of mediation can be thoroughly explored.


The three pillars of mediation remain it’s voluntary (at the moment), 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 me at Northwest Mediation on 0161 667 4418 or via email at ed.johnson@northwestmediation.co.uk

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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