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  • Writer's pictureEd Johnson

Mediation News Brief

And as we charge toward the 31/1/20 becoming the only country to impose economic sanctions on itself what has happened this week in the world of mediation?

It was only last week we spoke about Lufthansa’ going into mediation this week it’s Delta’s turn.

Delta and pilot union Air Line Pilots Association have been in negotiations for nine months over terms and conditions for the union members and whether it is necessary to have an increase in the numbers of pilots.

Now at the point when the company feels negotiations can go no further they have said that they need a mediator to help them move forward.

Chair of the Union at Delta, Ryan Schnitzler (not pictured), said “Management further stated they did not feel that any further negotiating sessions without a mediator present would be productive”.

Delta would like to agree a joint nomination of the National Mediation Board who are the board governing airline/employee disputes. The current contract allows until 31/3/2020 for mediation to be requested but delta can see no benefit without a mediator present. As ever you can wait to elect to mediate but the sooner the better if you want to find a resolution.

Schnitzler says that he thinks he could secure a deal by the March deadline but that Delta have effectively walked away from the table. With respect that’s not what they’ve done they have merely said they want to mediate and that may involve a third party but it’s still talking.

The £28 million package offered so far is insufficient for the Union to agree and it seems sensible form an outsider’s perspective to head to mediation if what you want to do is keep the talks alive.

The title of this first Irish article is somewhat misleading, it’s a really interesting piece on the differing views of people at the seminar, however as I read it this seems to be rather more positive than the negative headline would suggest.

Yes there will always be personalities not suited for mediation (either to conduct or take part) but to suggest that was the tenor of the seminar is not accurate, imho.

Judge Rosemary Horgan said that mediation remained a vital part of the toolkit and that part of the skill of the mediator is to assess if the parties taking part have the ability to make the decisions necessary. That’s not just a point for family mediation but in all cases, sometimes tough decisions are needed and the client has to be able to do so effectively and in an informed manner, not because they feel pressured into doing so.

The Judge added that “maladaptive patterns” in responding to problems by litigation and not by ADR and mediation need to be relearned.

In an interesting comment about indigenous tribe disputes State Court Judge Tim Connors said we need to be less focused on power, ownership and punishment and base solutions on relationships. Quoting the Native American concept that everyone is related as we all share the same planet, and that any decision will have an impact for seven generations and that the parties had to let go of the pain caused by the dispute to be able to move on.

Relationship status and conflict is something I come across a lot in civil (not just family) mediation; power play between directors, which when stripped down in mediation is actually about the relationship of the parties having taken a wrong turn (or a simple misunderstanding). Where those relationships are likely to continue in the future then mediation can help rebuild the relationship, where the businesses are not likely to work together in the near future (never say never) it’s a question sometimes of accepting the difference of opinion and finding a mutually acceptable settlement.

You’ll recall me blogging previously about the water issues with the Nile Dam. Great if you are upstream getting power from the largest HEP dam in Africa, not so much if you’re downstream wanting water (similar to the issue seen in the Grand Tour Special).

Now Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed has asked South Africa to help. South Africa’s president Cyril Ramaphosa will take over the chair of the African Union Commission next month so is well placed to act as mediator between Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt all of whom have an interest in the waters of the Nile when the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is complete.

The previous talks between the parties failed to reach an agreement so as with many cases an independent third party is being sought who both understands the issues and is respected by all involved.

There remains a dispute over how quickly the dam is filled and how much and how often water is released.

Another re-visit for us this week as we hear again from the mediator involved in the cases against Monsanto Co for causing non-hodgkins lymphoma by exposure to their Roundup weedkiller.

Ken Feinberg said “There are talks with various lawyers around the nation who have significant inventories of Roundup cases. I'm optimistic we can reach a comprehensive settlement of this litigation"

In response to suggestions that the chemical giant might be trying to settle matters piecemeal to avoid a larger pay-out Chris Loder from Bayer (Monsanto’s parent company) said “the mediation process is continuing diligently and in good faith to explore resolution under the auspices of Ken Feinberg.”

The US government has already weighed in on the argument by filing an application in December supportive of the Bayer position that glyphosate was a safe ingredient. Hopefully Ken’s optimism will be borne out by the results.

Kenneth Feinberg was also the mediator of choice for the Methodist church when the church needed to work a way forward that ultimately ends with the church being split in two with a mandate to follow different interpretations of the biblical teachings on LGBTQ+, marriage and ministry.

Ken had to deal with bishops, international conferences and advocates from both wings of the church over the course of several meetings and three full on mediation sessions last year before the announcement of the result on 3/1/20.

First determining there was no way that doctrinal differences could be merged Ken set about the practical steps of severing the property and governance of what has become the two churches, the new (?) “traditionalist” side would split whilst the remaining denomination would begin to remove the bans on same sex marriage and ordaining homosexuals.

It’s always hard when a family breaks up, traditional or as in this case the family of the church and a mediation is the ideal way to address all the issues frankly and openly without further harm being caused.

Whilst it may be Veganuary for some that doesn’t stop mediation in the beef farming world from happening. Over in Ireland the Beef Plan Movement’s co-chairs have agreed to appoint a mediator to resolve difficulties over the groups accounts.

The dispute is between national committee members and the two co-chairs, who are standing down, the accounts need signing off before going public and having a mediator who deals with matters in confidence will allow a full and frank examination of the way in which membership fees have been spent (notably one of the co-chairs Hugh Doyle had already started a defence of the accounts by saying that “a lot of that money was spent on legal fees".)

As we’ve said before choose to mediate early and resolve your issues effectively, in a timely manner, 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 (and some lawyers) 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

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