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  • Writer's pictureEd Johnson

Settlement tips, hope on the rise, musical mediation

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 continues to use 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.

A mediated settlement stays confidential unless the parties agree not to, discussion about how much is paid or if a payment is made is simply speculation. The same is true of course for most out of court settlements, the terms of the Duke of York (he still holds this title at the time of writing) are therefore only known in terms of what has been released.

People settle cases for many reasons, not necessarily because they accept they are in the wrong. Sometimes it is a better outcome to see an early end to a claim than have to go through the court process, it might be that your family do not want to be put through the stress of court and all that goes with it.

To be clear we simply don’t know why Andrew settled, we can guess the decision was spurred on by his abysmal interview on Channel Four which gave any defence lawyer cold sweats (something Andrew apparently couldn’t have had), and included his refusal to acknowledge that his friendship with convicted paedophile and sex trafficker Epstein was regrettable, his denial in the face of photographic evidence of meeting his accuser, his one clear memory but remembered-by-no-one-else trip to Pizza Express Woking, but we’ll probably never know. For the victim in that case one hopes it is a satisfactory result, for she too has been saved the cross examination, the extra years of stress and no doubt further character assassination, I hope the settlement represents some closure for her.

And if you are thinking of mediating your dispute there are some tips to avoid this week from Lynn O’Malley-Taylor and Rachel Gupta. I hope Lynn and Rachel won’t mind me paraphrasing her rules (they are spot on)

1. Will your anchor hold? (my mother’s funeral song as it happens) don’t make your first offer random, think it out, let the other side know it is thought out, there may come a time for a pragmatic split of the difference but your first offer should be considered enough for the other side to understand where you are coming from. And don’t be afraid to be first, someone has to and really good counsel I’ve worked with are often the first to “blink”, parties are there to settle not play chicken.

2. Failing to prepare is preparing to fail – do not throw away your shot - client’s should have some idea of their claim AND THEIR COSTS I’ve now lost count of the times that the settlement comes down to solicitors negotiating with their own clients over costs to be able to settle at mediation, don’t turn up without knowing the value of your claim, an apology may be enough for you (and often is) but your lawyer will want paying

3. Look at the case in the round yes examine each element but don’t lose sight of the whole, settlement in mediation is about moving on not necessarily ticking off each head of claim, all though if pleaded you will want to look at all of them if there is something blocking settlement but the rest is acceptable isn’t it better to leave that element either for trial or just accept it will never be settled and find a workable solution which encompasses it?

4. Ultimatum bingo – is it 15 or 17 the most final offers I’ve ever had to pass between caucuses I no longer count, but don’t fire off ultimatums too early, wait for it, wait for it

5. Don’t be overly litigious – I’m a litigator by background so I know full well that one party (or normally their lawyer) can throw themselves into the “a-ha so you do admit you were present on the night of the 14th” mode, it doesn’t help, looks ridiculous and I will absolutely call your lawyer out if they do it. It makes the collaborative process adversarial and puts blocks in the way of progress. And don’t (as some other counsel I have also worked with have done) stop your client participating, I want to hear from them, so I can understand what they want I’ve read your pleadings I know what you think they want but (and this so often applies in inheritance cases) there is often a non-litigious or an answer which hasn’t been pleaded, is it an apology an acknowledgment of error if I am to communicate how your client’s life has been impacted by the decisions of the other party they need to tell me not filter it through the lawyer wafflater.

It would be hard to ignore the Russian military manoeuvring on the Ukraine border. At the time of writing there is some hopeful noise coming out from the international community that war might just be delayed if not prevented. In the worst game of Risk for 50 years Putin appears to have put all his troops at the border then denied that he intends to invade, but there does seem to be hope. The Ukraine has said it would welcome mediation from the Vatican in a statement from Andriy Yurash, Kyiv’s ambassador to the Holy See.

"As I understand it, the Vatican would be ready and happy to create this possibility for meeting leaders from both sides…Ukraine is completely in favour of this very influential, very spiritual place for a meeting. If Russia confirms its will to sit at the table, immediately Ukraine will respond in a positive way". One hopes that matters de-escalate whether with the intervention of the Pontiff or without.

On a lighter note the striking San Antonio Symphony has met with their management in mediation in a further effort to resolve issues over changing the orchestra’s make up along with pay and conditions. Proposals are for the number of members to be reduced and for others to be put on part time contracts (with corresponding impact on their wages).

Music director emeritus Sebastian Long-Lessing said the proposals were not acceptable saying on Texas Public Radio “It is immoral because you have existing players, how do you determine who goes in one category or the other? It's not a functional orchestra…You won’t keep players in town in San Antonio for $11,000 a year.”

The wage cuts are significant even for those who are proposed as remaining full time, which in an orchestra which is paid the least of any in the state is a big (and some would say) unrealistic ask.

Hopefully the news that management and union negotiators are meeting in mediation conducted by the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service means that an acceptable way forward can be found.

The three pillars of mediation remain it’s voluntary, 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 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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