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  • Writer's pictureEd Johnson

The end of Covid the beginning of the new 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.

We all wear masks of one form or another, I wrote last year that we put on a mask to go out to work, or stay in to work as has been the case for the last 18 months, this account describes the literal mask wearing in a mediation.

On balance I’d much rather see the whole of the parties’ faces to pick up on unconscious signals (some of which are lost on zoom but more I feel lost if most of the face is covered. I’ve been fortunate that the in person mediations I’ve done this last few months have been in rooms big enough and ventilated enough to work without masks by agreement of all involved and I hope that will continue to be the case.

Larry Schachner in this piece echoes my thoughts that although continuing to work from home (as I have for nearly 4 years) is good for the commute and the kids I miss interaction with people in the physical realm. I sit here week in week out working as a consultant or mediator and take calls, video and phone, send and receive emails and post but real people I miss them. I will be glad to see you in person or virtually for mediation, both styles work and looing forward Northwest Mediation will be doing a mix based on client requirements.

Shine Lawyers have filed a group litigation against the owners of the cruise liner the Ruby Princess (Carnival Corporation) on behalf of the families of those who died from Covid, the claimants say as a result of the mishandling of the infections on board last year.

It is unlikely to be the last litigation to come out of the pandemic, so it is good to see the parties are embracing mediation to try to resolve issues before taking the matter to trial.

The allegations arise from contractions which occurred after docking in March last year, the mediation is scheduled for August it will be interesting to see if after the confidential mediation the parties release any details of settlements achieved and concessions made.

One of the other significant areas of litigation as a result of covid will be breaches of the VDU regulations, how many staff have been working at home on a sofa with no risk assessment? How many people will find their backs hurting as “agile” working gets adopted but without the proper attention to risk?

One other area to see face potential mass litigation and as you know my hobby horse (other than inheritance mediation which is a must in disputed cases) is landlord and tenant mediation. The Portland scheme has been running for a number of months but currently does not require proof that Covid had impacted on the income of the tenant to take part. This is an open letter stating that tenants have abused the system and simply not paid rent even if they were in position to do so. I would argue that irrespective of the immediate impact of Covid landlords and tenants should still opt for mediation as it is a vast saving on the expense of fighting at court, rather than suggesting people have been playing the system get into a discussion with your tenants, they might have been supporting other members of the family, if anyone is lucky enough to have had no impact on their life, whether the impact is financial, mental or physical by the pandemic they are incredibly unusual.

In employment mediation news we hear this week that two of the 15 New Jersey rail unions have asked for federal mediators to step in to assist with discussions over terms and conditions.

Talks started in 2019 and Nancy Snyder of NJ Transit said that “NJ Transit has been engaged in meaningful and productive discussions during the collective bargaining process to do everything necessary to work cooperatively with our labour unions”.

It is unsurprising after 2 years of talks that the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers has asked for the National Mediation Board to assist, as with most mediations there is a high chance of success (quoted in this article as 80-85%) and with federal mediators even if no agreement is reached they are empowered to recommend arbitration which can then issue frameworks for settlement and avoid the threatened strike action and interruption of transport which as life looks like getting back to a bit more normal this year is probably of vital importance to the New Jersey economy.

You may recall Christine Holgate left her position as head of Australia Post, in part over allegations that senior officers in the business received Cartier watches. Part of the dispute is whether she left or was pushed, and the evidence given in previous committees seems to be very confused on the issue, one would have expected such a senior role to require formal written resignation or dismissal, and not as seems to be the case here the decision taken on the back of an email saying Christine was taking a couple of weeks leave that she had resigned!

Her legal team had offered to mediate and given a deadline of two weeks for AP to respond to the request, AP has said it needs more time to consider the offer, her Christine’s reaction when the deadline passed was to say she was left with no option that to issue proceedings.

I often get asked how long do you leave a request and two weeks is enough in my opinion, either you are willing to mediate or not, and a corporate giant like AP knows full well the benefits of doing so there’s no real reason for a delay in making a decision, say yes then agree the terms AP!

Her legal team released a statement that “We have been advised the government requires more time to consider the offer to mediate and that Australia Post will not be able to meet the deadline,” her legal team said in a statement.

“Given there appears to be an absence of agreement to mediate this matter expeditiously, Ms Holgate will now have no option but to consider her legal options after the Senate communications and environment committee’s report into these matters is released on May 17.”

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 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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