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Scotland: The Final Word?

“The key to doing well lies not in overcoming others,
but in eliciting their co-operation.”
Robert Axelrod

“Although negotiation takes place every day, it is not easy to do well. Standard strategies for negotiation often leave people dissatisfied, worn out or alienated…..”
Roger Fisher and William Ury

For probably the final time, I am writing about the referendum which was recently held in Scotland. Now, a Commission has been set up to address the need for additional powers, which the “No” vote has prompted.

Collaborative Scotland and Core Solutions have submitted views. These may be of interest to all of those who are pondering how the future of politics and our mediation work may i [...]

Spreading the word

This brief comment arises from genuine curiosity and contains a question for my co-authors and anyone else who happens to read this blog. The situation is this: I’ve recently finished reading the first instalment of the learning journals for my Negotiation and Mediation class, which is a device I’ve used for the more than 20 years I’ve been teaching such a course. I’ll usually acknowledge at the outset to the class that this is probably an unusual component for a law school, but it is well-established in comparable courses and is probably something many professionals do as a way of maintaining their own reflective practice. The format has certainly changed over the years, from hand w [...]

Have your say on international commercial mediation


For one more week only you have the chance to have your say on the enforcement of cross-border mediated settlement agreements. I encourage each and every one of you to offer your input.

Two surveys will be gathering input from dispute resolution professionals and others on the challenge of enforcing settlement agreements across borders.

The surveys are intended to provide empirical data to aid the decision making process for the proposed UNCITRAL settlement convention on the international enforcement of settlements reached in mediation.

IMI Survey of Corporate Needs

The first survey is just four questions, and is from the International Mediation Institute. It is focused on the l [...]

Lie to Me (diation)

I must confess that I am getting addicted to the TV series “Lie to Me”.

Dr. Cal Lightman, the series protagonist, and his assistant, Dr. Gillian Foster, are specialists in fraud detection through a rather unconventional method: facial expression and body language analysis. Dr. Lightman’s character is based on the well known psychologist Paul Ekman, and his client list varies from the FBI to private institutions, and even individuals interested in finding out some hidden truths in their personal lives.

Despite the cinematographic approach, “Lie to Me” tries to provide a scientific overview of a rather unexplored segment (body and facial expressions), demonstrating, through simple exa [...]

Common Ground

The X factor in mediation is the ability to influence the other side to pay more or take less. Finding the elusive X factor is the challenge for most mediators, and is often done in the face of uncertainty. This uncertainty takes many forms and can serve as a barrier if not acknowledged and addressed by the parties. Taking the uncertainty out of the negotiation requires the mediator to convey to each of the parties the ability to be strategic while at the same time presenting each negotiation move from a positive perspective.

Got Milk?

If we offered you a tall glass of ice cold milk after you just finished eating a plate of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, would you accept our offer? We [...]

Ancient Wisdom for Modern Mediators


On emerging from a rather taxing meeting a phrase popped into my mind which has done so regularly since I started mediating. It runs “a soft answer turns away wrath” and it is to be found in the biblical book of Proverbs. It will resonate with anyone faced with hostility: anger can be contained by refusing to respond in kind. It’s a commonplace for mediators to stay calm and steady while the temperature rises and discover that afterwards, when the dust has settled, the person who was angry has not only calmed down but is both apologetic and grateful. It struck me that, if this ancient wisdom tradition could so eloquently convey a universal truth, it may have more to offer.

The Wisdom [...]

The Singapore Mediation Lecture 2014

The Singapore Mediation Lecture 2014 was delivered on 26 September 2014 by Mr. Brad Berenson, the Vice President and Senior Counsel for Litigation and Legal Policy of General Electric. The third lecture in this series, the Singapore Mediation Lecture is a result of a partnership between the Singapore Mediation Centre, the Singapore Management University School of Law and Harry Elias Partnership. Previous speakers were the former president of Singapore, Mr. S R Nathan (2012) and Lord Woolf (2013).

The title of the lecture was “The Mediation Imperative: Why Successful Companies Embrace Mediation”. I do not propose to reproduce the speech here. The speech will be published in the Asian Jou [...]

SETTLEMENT – A Mediator’s Prayer

Hong Kong mediator, lawyer and poet, TK Iu, was introduced to readers by fellow blogger Joel Lee earlier this year. TK’s first published poetic piece on mediation was entitled, ‘A Mediator’s Prayer’, inspired by the Peace Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi. If you missed it, it’s well worth the read. In just a few lines, ‘A Mediator’s Prayer’ prompts mediators to reflect on why we do what we do – both in the mediation room and beyond.

TK’s most recent piece is entitled ‘SETTLEMENT’. I have taken the liberty to set it out here for readers. As I read its lines again, I can’t help thinking what a creative tool this would be for mediator training. There’s loads of studies that show the utility of [...]

Effective Strategies for Mediating Coverage Disputes

I. Introduction

The mediation of insurance and risk transfer disputes involves interpretation of contracts and insurance policies, challenging legal issues, and the interests of multiple stakeholders. Such mediations are not just a matter of exchanging numbers. For parties, how do you advocate your position while, at the same time, exploring settlement? For a mediator, how do you navigate through such specialized advocacy and find common ground? So, in third-party claims, for example, indemnity agreements are often at play. And the so-called “underlying” lawsuit often has coverage issues that pose a principal impediment to settlement. Those are “coverage disputes” too. The dynamics o [...]

There’s an app for that! The use of technology in developing parenting plans

Never one to turn down the opportunity to try out new technological developments, I was interested to come across software designed to assist in formulating parenting plans earlier this year. This may sound rather “out there” to many mediators, so bear with me while I try to set out how it works and how I have used it.

The programme I have been using is Custody X Change, written by Ben Coltrin at the ripe old age of 21 in 2003. Over the past 11 years, the software has been refined and updated to result in what is now a very efficient, user friendly and innovative product. In essence, the software assists parents, and professionals working with separating parents, in creating a parenting [...]