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In the last year I have had the privilege of joining a group of mediators for their monthly CPD (continuing professional development). We are all loosely in the commercial sector, which can include workplace, family business and public sector disputes. This being Scotland (see previous posts on judicial resistance to mediation) no-one is making their…

Mediation is often portrayed as a useful vehicle for disputes between equals, where parties can be expected to speak for themselves and neither has significant power over the other. Critics, and even supporters, become more sceptical when it comes to less symmetrical situations. Complaints against professionals are one such category. The professional is seen to…

Hamnett Building

This week in Glasgow, Strathclyde University hosted the first seminar in a series entitled ‘Reframing Resolution – Managing Individual Workplace Conflict’. The six seminars will take place across the UK over the next 12 months and the opener was ambitiously called ‘Understanding Individual Employment Disputes.’ The day contained elements that were encouraging and others that…

To paraphrase Jane Austen, it is a truth universally acknowledged that mediation is confidential. Go on any training course, listen to any mediator’s opening speech, and the secrecy/privacy of the process will be affirmed and reaffirmed. In the commercial mediation arena, and these days most other practice areas, you will also sign a contractual undertaking…

Professions (and hence professionals) are both blessed and cursed with high expectations. The upside is clear: the public expects high standards, expertise and care, and in return is prepared to pay handsomely. The downside typically involves disciplinary sanctions against those not measuring up to those standards, although issues of probity rather than competence tend to…

I find myself writing this blog from South Africa, at the annual conference of the International Association of Conflict Management – http://www.iacm-conflict.org/. It is a fantastic melting pot of ideas, bringing together a range of cultures and identities. Cultures, at first sight, seem to describe national and group identities: South African, American, French, Dutch, Tanzanian,…

This week the 5th World Summit on Elder Mediation is taking place in Glasgow: see http://www.eldermediation.ca/styled-2/index.html. It is an inspiring gathering, bringing together mediators from Canada, Ireland, Spain, Switzerland, England and Scotland, all committed to helping older people deal with conflict in a way that is humane and just. The range of issues is daunting…

Scotland is a practical nation. The list of its inventions includes penicillin, anaesthetics, steam engines, tarmac roads and even the decimal point (see http://www.magicdragon.com/Wallace/thingscot.html#Ta). Like the rest of the UK its culture was in part forged by the ‘practical man’ of the Industrial Revolution, rejecting grand theory in favour of trial and error. Its lawyers,…

Meat

I was recently given an extraordinary birthday present: a day at the Nick Nairn Cook School (www.nicknairncookschool.com). Nick Nairn is one of Scotland’s most famous celebrity chefs, known for his respect for traditional Scottish fare, and as something of a foody I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday. I wasn’t disappointed….

It is not uncommon to hear lawyers speak warmly of mediation in general, but when asked if they would recommend it for a particular case respond that they could not see it working. Related to this, lawyers who have developed well-honed negotiation skills may struggle to see how a mediator could improve on their outcomes….