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  • Writer's pictureEd Johnson

Time - save it in mediation

With the continued backlog of cases 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 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.


Time was very much on my mind this week when at 8pm parties, counsel (barristers) and myself were still working on the finer points of an agreement in a mediation that had begun at 10 am that day.


As a mediator remotely or physically shuttling between rooms you don’t get a lot of time for lunch, the parties do as you spend at least half the time with the other party. I hope that all concerned think that reaching and finalising a way forward by spending a few previous extra hours on a Friday evening was worth it, as compared to the alternative of several months more at court (if indeed not years).


One of the many benefits of working from home is that you can save time and prep some food in advance and ram it down your throat in a few minutes between sessions, but even this can have it’s pitfalls as this week when my better half was also working from home and through that the delicious salad I had prepared was meant for her. Ah well just shows mediators fail to communicate like the rest of the world.


It was interesting to hear the senior family judge’s view art the local court on time this week when discussing refocusing (reinforcement) of the 26 week rule in public law matters, I’m not sure this decision has any understanding on the stress and time constraints faced by social workers and the councils in general but it shows you time is a driving force in all things.


Of course you know where I’m going with this? Mediation is a time saver, it’s not as some think an overnight solution, it can take all day (or more in particularly difficult civil cases) or many sessions to reach a conclusion in matrimonial sessions particularly when dealing with finances.


One of the problems discussed in this article of the time saving that is brought on by homeworking is when employer and employee fall out. Yes it’s about mediation but in the states the legislation on what is permitted in employment law and how mediations are dealt with differs between states and an employee in one state may be dealing with a remote working employee in another.


It’s not an issue that comes up a great deal in my practice, occasionally we have cases that involve cross border disputes but generally those types of contracts already determine which law applies so it’s interesting to read that at an early stage the parties not only need to agree which law in terms of requirements for homeworking apply but which rules on mediation are going to be followed. The one thing that won’t change is that mediation will be quicker than trying to take things to court.


In mediation the parties keep control of the process, to a certain extent, so I will always give the choice of in person or remote and if in person where would the parties be agreeable to meeting. That may mean me travelling a bit and losing a bit of my time but for the parties if it saves times they come more readily prepared to talk and find ways forward.


And as the tax deadline for self employed (hello!) has just passed this article form Osborne Clarke on HMRC’s attitude to ADR is quite timely!


I am not naming names but you have to assume that a certain former chairman of the tory party was glad that HMRC took a mediation approach to unpaid tax and perhaps he had the benefit of an HMRC ADR solution, certainly doesn’t seem like they’ll be prosecuting any time soon.


The big difference in HMRC ADR is that the mediator will always be and HMRC official, so about as independent as having the prosecution look at the defence’s case, but that’s just the way it is. Thankfully the payee (let’s be blunt that’s what we all are) is able to request a co-mediator for the process (at their own expense) and in relation to my comments about time HMRC have a strict 4 month limit on settling matters from the date of request for ADR to solution so it cracks along at a good pace if not quite as swift as most of my bookings are! (within 2 weeks if you’re asking).


The other skew on normal rules is that “tax facts” (not alternative facts) are outside the without prejudice scope, so you can pretty much rely on any offers being without prejudice but not if you disclose that there is an additional factor in your tax calculation that results in more or additional types of tax! Careful what you say therefore.


The mediator may in bigger cases also have to refer any proposal up to the HMRC board, so this sounds far more like an arbitration than a meditation, no offence HMRC but perhaps change your terminology.

Finally save time by starting your mediators early! Like at school, I’ve talked before about my daughter’s experience of playground mediation in primary school and here at Port Richmond High School, Staten Island New York a new scheme is under way to help students get through their differences with a Peer mediation centre opening up.


Here two student mediators will meet with and assist students work through their differences and find ways to forward while encouraging the support of all students (and staff).


You cannot start empathy early enough in my opinion, it sadly lacks from most online discussions and greatly in our current government so maybe starting kids off with this attitude may make for a better future, only time will tell.


The three pillars of mediation remain it’s voluntary (except apparently when it won’t be anymore), 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. Finally this one is mediation, mediator jointly appointed, areas of discussion agreed and intention to be bound by the outcome.


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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