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  • Ed Johnson

The future of 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.

When I saw the title of this piece “Mediation ordered in Hot Yoga case” I was expecting to find either a contract or possibly an employment issue, and to be able to talk about how mediation is flexible, sadly the mediation arises out of the murder of students at a yoga class in Tallahassee in 2018.


Two victims, Florida State University student Maura Binkley and Capital Health Plan’s Chief Medical Officer Nancy Van Vessem, died and four others were injured when Scott Beierle opened fire on the class, another student stepped in and using a vacuum cleaner stopped any further injuries. Beierle went on to kill himself.


The actual claims out of which the mediation has been ordered are against the building owners and the studio for inadequate security for filing to notice Beirele walking round outside the studio for nearly half an hour before entering and opening fire.


The parties have until January next year to resolve matters by mediation failing which court proceedings will resume.


It’s noticeable that in mediation there is a good balance of genders within the profession, certainly from my experience there at least an equal if not greater number of women mediators as men.


When you drill down to those involved in the specific sectors that may change and I suspect that the imbalances remain in favour of women in family mediation and in favour of men in civil litigation, but from those I’ve trained with regularly that distinction seems to be disappearing – and that can only be a good thing.


This week saw a meeting of 11 civil society organisations from across Africa (Human Sciences Research Council; Africa Institute of South Africa; Women’s International Peace Centre; Femmes Africa Solidarité (FAS); South African Women in Dialogue (SAWID); West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP); African Women in Dialogue (AfWID); African Leadership Centre; Institute for Security Studies (ISS); Training for Peace (TfP); African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD); and the South Africa Department of Science and Innovation which was to mark the 20th anniversary of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) on women, peace and security (UNSCR 1325).


The virtual meeting “20 years of African Women’s Participation in Women, Peace and Security: Civil Society Perspectives.” was led by Ms. Pravina Makan-Lakha, General Manager and Advisor on Women, Peace and Security (WPS) and looked at how far progress had been made and what else could be done to encourage the role of women in WPS.


Pravina spoke of the mixed successes cross Africa noting that of the 16 peace treaties signed between 1992 to 2011 only two had women as signatories and that although South Africa had over 46% of women in its parliament it ranked 97th in the world in terms of gender equality generally.


Any move to increase equality in the work of mediation is welcomed by Northwest Mediation whether it’s gender, race or creed.


Northwest Mediation is often asked “how does mediation work” it’s a difficult question to answer as each mediation depends on its facts but there are similarities in the steps taken in most mediaitons.

In order to explain how mediation can assist this week the Scottish Land Commission has organised a mock mediation, I do love a bit of role play (I’ve missed LARPing this year). Christopher Nicolson chairman of the Scottish Tenant Farmers’ Association chairman will play the role of tenant, supported by lawyer Hamish Lean of Shepherd and Wedderburn and adviser Tom Oates from YoungsRPS.


The landlord will be played by David Johnstone, former chairman of the Scottish Land and Estates chairman, who was supported by Heather Bruce from Turcan Connell and adviser Mark Fogden from Savills.


Professional mediators will take the players and delegates through the process and are open to questions throughout


Bob McIntosh of Scotland’s Tenant Farming Commissioner said “It’s the first time anyone has tried to demonstrate mediation in this format and I’m really looking forward to attending.”


Expectations continue that video mediation will continue to be used in the future irrespective of Covid so the whole process will be by video platform (one assumes Zoom though if the parties prefer the more glitchy MS Teams maybe they’ll use that instead).


And while we’re on about the future let’s look at the mediators’ roles in the green revolution.

It’s another excellent article by John Sturrock regarding how we take mediation forward in a green way, it is, he argues “a sustainable, efficient, cost- effective way to resolve disputes and other differences”, and we wouldn’t disagree.


He notes, as we have, that online mediation not only saves money and time but also the planet. There’s no travelling to or from the meetings so no fossil fuels are used up in travel, there may be an argument that more electricity is used but depending on your choice of supplier even that may be from renewables (while working from home Northwest Mediation uses electricity supplied only from renewable sources).


The pledge that already has many signatories includes using paper only when necessary (something Northwest Mediation has done since inception so as to avoid not inly the impact on the planet but to reduce the cost of ink for the printer!).


Certain sectors (FMC) are still insistent that face to face mediation is the preferential method and therefore travel must be involved, Northwest Mediation disagrees and considers that in most instances the benefits of online mediation outweigh the loss of physicality. As generations grow living their lives on screen via chat rooms, playing online whether it’s Minecraft or Amongus and as we move out into space video (and later hologram no doubt) will become the primary method of communication with which all parties are comfortable. So if you haven’t already sign the pledge.


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. 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 ed.johnson@northwestmediation.co.uk

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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