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  • Writer's pictureEd Johnson

Selah - pause, reflect and consider

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.

Being forced into a period of isolation can feel horrendous for those people used to being busy. In the Hebrew bible the end of a verse was marked by the word “Selah” indicating the move on to the next verse, but sometimes taken to be a suggestion that having heard the verse it was time to pause, consider what had been heard and reflect on what the verse meant.

Pausing to consider what you have heard in mediation is a vital skill, both for the mediator and clients. The silence allows you to process and understand, listening to hear rather than listening to respond. In online and phone mediations those silences can seem especially lengthy, but they are even more important as there is less of the physical “conversation” passing between parties but they still need time to pause and reflect. Equally having a coffee or a chat can be seen as a pause and chance to consider life at the moment (especially in my case when I’m once again joined at coffee break by my 13 year old after her first home school session).

And during this pause of litigation in Canada the uptick in ADR is clear to be seen with the team at Borden Ladner Gervais LLP reporting the increased use of arbitration (a form of ADR not strictly mediation) and reminding us of the benefits of such a system especially in these difficult times:-

  • Timely hearing of pressing interlocutory or other procedural issues (injunctions or discovery);

  • Hearing of key substantive issues, such as a limitations defence, to narrow the dispute;

  • Immediate flexibility in hearing locations, virtual meetings, or "documents-only" procedures;

  • A broad roster of arbitrators, many of whom may now have more availability; and

  • The opportunity to return the dispute to courts when the crisis lifts.

Mediation can help in all these ways not by “determining” but by helping the parties reach agreement on the various disputes, allowing you to keep control on how the dispute or each element of it are resolved.

And in Minnesota (has Saint Paul) Dan Sparks state senator District 27 has ensured that during the pause of normal life the fourth COVID-19 relief bill has been passed focusing on “making technical changes that help with a variety of licensing and other issues that have been affected by in-person restrictions” he has worked with “colleagues in the Senate and the House to include an important provision extending the length of mediation available for farmers in the Farmer-Lender Mediation Act. This mediation period was extended from 90 to 150 days, which is a major boost for our farmers”.

Whilst time limits help focus people (a 40 minute limit on the free Zoom conference encourages focused exchanges I’ve noticed) it’s important that parties have enough time to reflect and consider both the arguments put to them and their own positions.

In civil mediation I’ve often seen pre-mediation correspondence pushing for a decision by use of a deadline and whilst that can be helpful it often leads to a false belief on both sides that such a deadline becomes set in stone.

In mediation you can agree to extend deadlines, waive ultimatums and come to understand past pressures without losing face, provided your mediator gives you helpful guidance and time.

In this development in the long running Texas water rates dispute it’s the executive director & General Manager of North Texas Municipal Water District, Tom Kula, who is taking a long pause, in fact he’s stepping down in the midst of ongoing attempts to agree a mediator for the District and the 13 cities affected by the Public Utility Commission decision that the water rates set by the district are against the public interest.

This followed last March’s decision in a State Office of Administrative Hearing which recommended the case be sent to the commission. The judgment within its detailed analysis explained why the court felt that the water district was abusing its monopoly position.

There have been concerns that the state should stay out what some see as a local dispute, the Commission has now told the parties to get a mediator “or we’ll find one for you”! (Northwest Mediation is available subject to connection speeds).

As we’ve said before choose to mediate early and resolve your issues effectively, quickly but with sufficient and sensible pauses for reflection, and with less stress and costs than going to your solicitor. You have an interest in the outcome the sooner you get around 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 people 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 construction dispute 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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