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  • Writer's pictureEd Johnson

Shareholder rights directors' duties 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 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.

Northwest Mediation has dealt with a number of family business disputes over the last five years, farming and property businesses to name but two. Foxfield Inns Designated Activity company which employs nearly 200 staff is run and owned by the Flannery family, Mary is the secretary and has brought proceedings against her brothers and sister in law, Kevin, Sheelagh and Frank for acting in an oppressive manner and infringing her rights in respect of the hotel business.

Northwest Mediation often finds that people don’t really understand the difference between being a shareholder, a director, a company secretary and the different type of shareholdings which are available. In this case for instance all the parties may think they have an equal “right” to determine how the company is run but to whom do the company officers owe a duty and for whose interest must they be running the business?

Kevin, Frank and Mary are all equal shareholders and directors but Sheelagh is only a director, so whilst the balance of power may appear to favour Kevin and Sheelagh actually it’s that they hold more responsibility.

Andrea Moynihan, the other sister and equal director and shareholder, was not initially included but as a director she has been brought into the proceedings, again if the company mind has acted it is not as simple as just pursuing the individual directors you have “beef” with.

In any event as with so many family business disputes the judge in the case, David Barniville has ordered the parties to consider mediation, the impact not just on the family and their future relationship but on the employees has to be considered.

One of the difficulties the family faces is that their affidavits are publicly available and contain private details about the non-business relationships involved, this has added to the stress the parties face as the media has reported on the contents of their statements, the judge has rightly identified tat mediation would be confidential and all discussions would be dealt with privately so no further public inspection would be available.

If you don’t want your company finances, personal relationships and professional issue s aired in public you would be well advised to seek mediation rather than litigation, all documents once filed are publicly available.

Northwest Mediation blogs a lot about mediation being one available method of ADR, arbitration is one of the others, closer to but still not the court process arbitration presents evidence in a less formal way to an independent adjudicator.

You are still handing the decision to a third party (losing control of decisions which you would hold onto in mediation) so in Northwest Mediation’s opinion it is not as likely to give a satisfactory result for all involved, many see arbitration as “litigation-lite” a less formal approach somewhere between mediation and the court, that is not a bad analogy though arbitrators may take issue with that being an over simplified approach.

The County of Grande Prairie wants to go to mediation to resolve its issues with the City over the finalising of the Intermunicipal Collaboration Framework (irony?).

City Hall has said they have had eight mediations over four years so feel the time has come for the decision to be handed to someone else, County Reeve Leanne Beaupre has said “We thought we had made good progress on some issues. There were still some outstanding issues that we needed to negotiate on when the city chose to end that negotiation and move to an arbitrated process versus mediation.”

Noting the confidentiality of mediation means they cannot discuss what remains in dispute so long down the road Leanne added “What I can say is that (the) County of Grande Prairie has always been committed to paying its fair share and the process of going through items, speaking about the cost of a service and who is using the service and how much is being contributed to that service was up for discussion and we continue to have those discussions.”

Leanne wants to matters decided at a local level and feels that mediation would be financially better for the tax payer “The County of Grande Prairie felt that that was important to do because the process now becomes longer and it also costs more money to move it into arbitration, so with scarce resources, we felt that money could be better directed to some other project.”

The City Hall press release suggested they too are concerned about costs but feel that going to arbitration now rather than waiting until the April deadline would save funds and reach a quicker resolution, good luck with that given the listings in most courts during the pandemic has been nothing short of shocking.

I know Northwest Mediation bangs on most weeks about mediation between landlords and tenants but now it seems like there is a pilot scheme in the offing with the backing of Robert Jenrick. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government released news that “A new mediation pilot will further support landlords and renters who face court procedures and potential eviction from next month.

“It will offer mediation as part of the possession process to try and help landlords and tenants to reach a mutual agreement and keep people in their homes.

“Helping to resolve disputes through mediation will enable courts to prioritise urgent cases, supporting landlords and tenants to resolve issues quickly without the need for a formal hearing. The mediation pilot will work within the existing court arrangements in England and Wales.”

The proposal comes as the moratorium on evictions is once again extended due to the pandemic this time to the 21/2/21, which of course coincides with the governments rather unlikely timescale for the first four cohorts of “at risk” groups to have received one shot of vaccine (but not for them all to have had the chance for it to take effect) so expect further extensions.

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 the tunnel and see the light. 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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