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  • Writer's pictureEd Johnson

Time for Mediation


With the continued backlog of cases mediation is now more than ever the best choice to find a resolution for your dispute.  Get your dispute resolved now so 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 should we add we also do live in person mediation too!  So please do not feel that you cannot contact us if you would like to mediate but wish to do so remotely.


As my regular reader my be able to tell by the lack of recent blog posts it’s been a bit hectic at Northwest Mediation, between covid (again) hospital appointments (for others) dental changes and best of all loads of work and finishing my portfolio (again) getting chance to blog post has been limited.


I’ve also been being observed by other mediators this week (those just starting out on their training) it’s part of our own ongoing learning and whether being observed or observing others there’s always a note or two you can pick up.  Apparently I empathise remarkably well (I don’t want to say the implied “for a chap” was there but maybe it was) and getting feedback on the job you do day in ay out is helpful, it reminds you that there are some matters that you may miss if you become complacent.  Refocusing and remembering all those positive listening habits is vital and refreshing every once in a while is ideal.


So other than being great what did I learn?  More it was that I was prompted to remember that whilst it may be the four thousandth time I’ve give my standard opening for the client it’s the first time.


Ensuring that you build rapport from day one remains crucial and making sure you pay attention to the client’s unconscious signals remains something I work on, if anything the critique is letting client talk too much but sometimes it’s only by letting them spool out their history that you get to the nugget of their issue.


Whilst managing time efficiently (there’s no time management there’s only self-management is the old mantra) is important allowing clients with emotional issues to open up takes sensible application of questions and sometimes silence letting them talk, I could fire bullet point questions at clients and get all I need to start the process but would it be efficient, no, not really.


Give yourself and clients time to talk and expand on their issues so you can help, don’t rush it, good advice in most areas of life!


And if you have time give this video about insolvency mediation a watch, it’s an interesting piece on how to foster trust when one party (her the director) stood accused of potential misfeasance and various other mishandling of assets leading to and during the company’s insolvency.


As with many civil claims a key matter to be explored was a party’s ability to pay, it never fails to astound me how many cases are “won” at court when there is never any chance of the “loser” paying, a bit of due diligence on a person’s means often serves you well.


I recall well repeatedly explaining that whilst my client, at the time I was acting for them as claimant, believed the defendant had hidden resources finding them was going to be expensive and not necessarily fruitful.  When eventually the case was decided in my client’s favour they still couldn’t believe that the court wouldn’t make a payment on behalf of the defendant was there not some pot for them to be paid from (this was a discussion we had a lot and only when the judge confirmed the advice did they seem to grasp the issue).  Why, my client argued, wouldn’t the court have the defendant followed and lock him up until he paid – yes penal notices could apply but the defendant was virtually homeless and lived what I will generously call a frugal lifestyle.  It was one of the cases that made me take a sideways step into mediation.


Staying with insolvency in India it has been proposed that mediation is used by lenders and borrowers even before the borrower defaults to avoid costly and lengthy court hearings.


Such a move would further reduce the court lists, India’s drive to ensure more mediation continues to impact on court waiting times as more cases are decided away from the courts leaving the courts to manage those cases where real judicial input is necessary.


The hope is to avoid insolvency at all by encouraging parties to talk, it’s an odd thing that we humans tend to wait until crisis before seeking assistance.  As I sit here with covid again I remember how despite recommendations to have a strategy for covid like respiratory pandemic our complacent incompetent government did nothing and waited until the plague had arrived and people were dying before doing anything, and time and again they were late.  Hopefully the rumours of the particularly awful PM (and gosh what a choice we have to pick from over the last 14 years) we had making a come-back are just rumours.  Cincinnatus only came back to put himself on the front line not to edify himself or fleece the country, although like some he was very much against assistance for the poor so perhaps old De Pfeffel knew exactly what he was suggesting.




Elsewhere in mediation comment, Margaret Doyle has real concerns about the Mediation SEND consultation.  In brief, and suggest reading the article in full, Margaret has concerns that:-


The consultation was limited in who was involved missing key stakeholders such as families and school, local authorities and support organisations, an odd consultation on SEND to miss out such key players.


The paper is presented as coming from the CMC and COM (I’m a member of both) who maintain the SEND mediation register again without a wider range of public consultation


The time limit for submissions was a bare 3 weeks (since extended) but that’s no where near enough when you operate a busy practice to give thoughtful, considered input (time management yet again)


The report is no other format, for anything to do with SEND thought needs to be given to the availability of data and reports in many forms, whichever are easiest to digest and manipulate


Margaret goes on to say that even being familiar with the original SEND mediation standards she cannot see what the changes were being proposed or what the input requested was being aimed at, without specific questions or areas for change it seems an almost impossible task to expect collation of responses in any meaningful way to reflect the responses received – which is (given this government’s preference for doing what they want) is perhaps what was being aimed at, if the submissions are sufficiently wide that the results can be interpreted anyway they like they can justify any change proposed.


The inbuilt delays of the current system haven’t been addressed (the lack of decision makers attending mediation and the lack of staff in councils means the deadline for appeals passes simply by the lack of urgency on the part of the deciding council).


It’s not an encouraging read for those involved in SEND mediation but it is worth your time.


The three pillars of mediation remain it’s voluntary (at the moment), 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 me at Northwest Mediation on 0161 667 4418 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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