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  • Writer's pictureEd Johnson

Mediation thoughts at a funeral

With the continued backlog of cases 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 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.

I was at a funeral last week, no, not that one, it was a funeral for a family member someone I not only knew but also respected as they had lived a life less ordinary. It was as said in the eulogy a wonderful opportunity to know more about a person I knew a small amount about.

There are those who say that funerals are sad events, I much prefer those which celebrate the deceased’s life and as the deceased said in his instructions for the event “the funeral is for you lot I won’t care I’m gone”.

Of course there was a rather more publicised funeral recently where people who questioned the status quo were quickly either ignored or jumped upon by the forces of the state. Now I hadn’t realised quite how republican my kids were until this week but I am pleased that we encourage open discourse in our house and don’t shut down questions about the divine right of kings or indeed why, just because it has always been this way, it must continue to be so, which of course is a topic that comes up in mediation time and again.

The old family law rule that status quo was what ruled is no longer the lynch pin of decision making (thankfully) the child’s interest in family mediation is always central, but the status quo being questioned is often what leads to disagreements and thereto mediation in employment and neighbour disputes.

Of course I can’t mention funerals without referring to my pet subject of inheritance mediation where we often hear three or four different versions of what the deceased wanted, whether as espoused by the will or not. All truths are from your point of view, truth as the Vorlons say is a three edged sword, or as the Jedi might say (it’s Star Wars Andor day as I type this) everything we cling to in life depends on a certain point of view.

Your certain point of view changes depending on who's looking at you and in this lovely article by retired judge Alan Perkins about how the manner in which he was treated as a judge differed from the way he was treated (and treated parties) as a mediator/arbitrator.

I’m particularly fond of his surprise that people aren’t quite so quick to return phone calls when he is a neutral party as when he was a judge (I’m thinking the costs consequences are somewhat lighter if you don’t return calls to a mediator!).

It’s nice to hear him praised for not dragging things out but also sticking it out when necessary, people are often shocked when I carry on mediating well past the allotted hours (often for free) but it’s important that once the ball is rolling not to break off, that is one of the valuable differences in mediation to litigation where you can dip in and out and go backwards between sessions, it’s why I dislike the enforced FMC model of mediation in family and would (like many others) prefer to have longer sessions with families and actually get to the heat of the issues which can then be addressed in between sessions and come back if necessary for a short update and finalise session than dragging matters out.

For example I like clients to do homework before a first session they come prepared and hopefully have given some though to the issues, it doesn’t always work and one size does not fit all but being flexible is what mediation should be about.

From a certain point of view one person’s deception is another person’s erm….bullsh*t (I’m not sure of my filters on here so let’s revert to BS and nod along that we all know I mean “what Boris Johnson talks”).

In this article Phyllis Pollack discusses a paper from Harvard on the very topic of the distinction between BS and deception (and let’s leave out damned lies and statistics for now).

Deception as she suggests is intentional in it’s effect, covering up or manoeuvring away from a “truth” or topic that that is unhelpful in a manner which is dishonest. BS is more to do with the manner in delivery the art of which is exemplified by recent state leaders Trump and Johnson, repeating manifestly incorrect statements in such a way that people believe it (by pure coincidence the deceased from the aforementioned funeral told us that in his opinion in many countries and companies people rise to the level of their incompetence by not necessarily being smartest in the room but by being the best at BS).

Phyllis discusses Petrocelli’s idea that BS isn’t lying it’s simply not caring about the facts, the impact or anyone else’s opinion (seriously do I need to name names).

The important comment from Phyllis’ article is the last one, that whether it’s lying or BS to ethically and properly negotiate (and certainly to do so in a mediation) both need to be avoided.

I’m doing an update training on the new MIAM procedures today, I’m pleased to say I pretty much do everything already (though I do note more training for online MIAMs is coming so that’ll be another expense) while I’m doing that I notice there’s the updated rules on the American Arbitration Association's own rules for Commercial Arbitration Rules and Mediation Procedures.

The thing about all mediation is that (as I say every week) it has three pillars but the world changes and so we flex how we do mediation, whether it be the boom in Zoom or the walking method, the collaborative approach, co-mediation we change, we evolve, we grow but you are always lead through the same steps however they are presented and we try to do so in ways that are comfortable for the parties, encourage openness and result in the parties being able to move forward.

The three pillars of mediation remain it’s voluntary (except apparently when it won’t be anymore), 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. Finally this one is mediation, mediator jointly appointed, areas of discussion agreed and intention to be bound by the outcome.

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 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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