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  • Writer's pictureEd Johnson

Mediation reports and reviews of the here the now and the future

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, 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.

If you’re interested in what the future may hold for mediation you could do worse than spend an hour in the informed company of Jane Gunn hosted by the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb) a week on Thursday for a bit of intelligent crystal ball gazing.

You can probably guess some of the factors which are changing the business of mediation (climate, Covid and international leadership to name three) and no doubt Jane will have some erudite thoughts on the subject. (Camera’s off, mike’s muted).

Could one of the changes the future holds be the use of more objective sciences?

We’re not talking about laboratory tests but behavioural analyses (BA).

The techniques are employed by Northwest Mediation and all mediators, actively listen (listening to hear not listening to respond), conveying empathy by reflecting back to the speaker, seeking information to show understanding and summarising to ensure that the client has been fully understood and their position appreciated.

The study found the following difficulties in codifying mediation:-

“We have no standard definition of success for either the mediator or the resolution of the dispute…

There are no professionally agreed-upon definitions and metrics that enable comparisons.

Nearly all research to date has been qualitative with each researcher developing their own methodology and terms. Comparability cannot result.

Getting access to live mediations is more than difficult. The process is confidential—and people like it that way.

Mediation is contextual. Are the skills demanded of a family mediator the same as those used by a construction mediator?

Finally, mediation is messy, and any resulting data, qualitative or quantitative, will be noisy. Correlating input and outcome will be hard, finding causations harder still.”

If that all sounds a little out there, try another technique Northwest Mediation uses in mediation ask “why”, in this case it is so that mediators across the world have a similar foundation of phrases and lexicography along with techniques and data recording.

We don’t keep data on clients and destroy notes to emphatically underline the confidential nature of mediation but we do keep records of successful mediations, those that both settle on the day and those that o n to settle shortly after, and the rates at Northwest Mediation are high (as they are with many mediators). But what if we are recording differently, what is success in mediation? An agreement or an agreement that works, or a change in attitude between participating clients? (All of the above is our answer).

Bringing the scientific method to mediation isn’t necessarily a bad thing as long as it is not an attempt to constrain the practitioner (in the way strict codification of court rules do) as the flexibility of the mediation techniques and application of those skills is vital to the mediator.

In another journal article this week Dr. Jann Blackstone sets out 5 areas she feels cause difficulties in mediation working – and let’s be clear this is précised by confirming that in virtually all contexts mediation assists but these are problems which can prevent resolution:-

Too much animosity – in my experience most parties come to the table with a level of animosity, whether we are dealing with a building dispute or a family matter, I’m not sure there is a scale of animosity but we do always have to check the parties can either be civil with each other, even if that is via the mediator in shuttle

Drink or drug abuse or domestic violence – sometimes the impact of substance abuse or domestic violence is an absolute bar to mediation taking place, but not always. Each case has to be carefully considered and both parties’ views taken on whether and how any mediation may proceed. During Covid the increase in the number of mediaitons taking place by remote video conferencing has meant that some cases which could not have proceeded with the parties int eh same building have been able to, an example of necessity being the mother of invention which in turn will have an impact of future mediations.

Mental health – Jann rightly identifies that if there are mental health issues (which will generally interlink with the other 4 “blocks to mediation”) these can prevent a mediation proceeding. As mediators we need to be aware of those issues and be ready to direct clients to third party services for assistance as necessary.

Not seeing eye to eye on contact (child arrangements) – rarely does a party come to a child arrangements mediation when they see eye to eye with the other parent, if they did they would have got on with their lives and not felt the need to contact Northwest Mediation.

Unwillingness to put the time in – this is the key killer for many mediations, irrespective of the type of dispute. If the parties are not willing to set aside a few hours to resolve their problems (which in private they may say have been going on for years and causing them months of stress) then it can be difficult to proceed and succeed in helping them resolve their differences. At Northwest Mediation we generally book people for ½ or full day sessions so they have a single block of time to consider all options and concentrate on resolving the issues between them. Often it is the first time the parties have had chance to sit down and air their grievances and be heard, but Jann’s right if they aren’t prepared to put in the time there is little chance of them reaching a conclusion.

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 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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