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Negotiation and Memory

Is it true that as we get older, we tend to forget things more easily? Or is it that some things are just less important?

As negotiators and mediators, we often deal with complex layers of information that appear all too much for any one person to recall. So we enter the negotiation room burdened with our big folders or sporting our slim iPads laden with mega data containing all the information that we might possibly need. I wonder though, if we sometimes rely too much on the documents when we could be structuring and presenting information and issues in ways that would maximise the negotiation experience — for everyone.

Let’s start with an overview of memory. From my reading there seem to [...]

What’s your country’s mediation-friendly ranking?

As mediation seeks to claim a larger slice of the international dispute resolution pie, an increasingly important question for lawyers is: where and according to which law would I choose to have the mediation of my clients matter conducted?

Say your client is a multinational corporation doing business with numerous organizations around the globe. Your advice is to insert a dispute resolution clause with mediation as a central component. Typically we select jurisdictions with which we are familiar to do business with. Smits explains the research that backs this up. This is sometimes referred to as the status quo bias. It might be our own jurisdiction or it might be another internationally we [...]

Do we need laws to help us say sorry?

On the last day of the year, like many of you, I find myself reflecting on the events of the past 12 months, the highs and lows, the tensions and the takeaways. Here is one of the takeaways.

In January this year I spent a day hiking through some spectacular scenery in Hong Kong. We were six adults, including one couple and their five year old son, Max.

The trail we had selected was long and the hike would take a good part of the day. We had set out early with sunscreen, water and food provisions. After several hours of glorious weather, and good humour, one of our merry band, Mike, strained a leg muscle. He could still walk but only with a limp and it was painful. As we were half way along [...]

Empirical study on international commercial mediation and conciliation

In a previous post, I shared Professor Stacie Strong’s call for blog readers to respond to her survey on international commercial mediation practice. Thank you to everyone you did.

While the final results are still pending, Prof Strong has released some preliminary results from the study.

The study, which is entitled “Use and Perception of International Commercial Mediation and Conciliation: A Preliminary Report on Issues Relating to the Proposed UNCITRAL Convention on International Commercial Mediation and Conciliation,” was written by Professor S.I. Strong of the University of Missouri and collected detailed data on 34 different questions from 221 respondents from all over the world. Surv [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

The Race towards a New York Convention for Cross-border Mediated Settlement Agreements: the Fable of the Tortoise and the Hare Revisited?


In his recent posting for the Kluwer Arbitration Blog, Michael McIlwrath picks up on what I affectionately refer to as the NYC4M (New York Convention for Mediation) theme, that is the debate about whether an international convention for the enforcement and recognition of cross-border mediated settlement agreements would assist the development of, and promote the use of, cross-border mediation. It’s a theme that Geoff Sharp of this Blog has also pursued. Moreover, the International Mediation Institute and the International Bar Association have recently announced a joint Taskforce to pursue an NYC4M.

While the idea seems at first glance like a no-brainer, an obviously attractive proposal t [...]

Our best negotiators are humble people …

Talking to Dr Gilbert Wong
Senior Superintendent, Commanding Officer, Police Negotiation Cadre, Hong Kong

Walking into Gilbert Wong’s office is like stumbling into Aladdin’s Cave – a treasure trove of memories and stories of his 21 years in the Hong Kong Police Force. Amongst his library of books on crisis negotiation, psychology, counselling, psychotherapy and other relevant fields, there are mementos, certificates, awards and honours representing this negotiator’s passion for people and his commitment to developing the field of crisis negotiation. A certified hypnotherapist, and a graduate of universities in Australia and the United States, FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) N [...]

What can mediators learn from crisis negotiators?

Next week I am going to interview one of Hong Kong’s leading police negotiators, Dr Gilbert Wong, Commanding Officer of the Police Negotiation Cadre (PNC). When I first emailed with Gilbert, I was struck by the signature line of his email: “Who Cares Wins”. While it could be a mediator’s tagline, it is in fact, the motto of the PNC.

As the South China Morning Post reported this month, most of Gilbert’s negotiations are with people who are so emotionally distraught and without hope that they are threatening to commit suicide. Now, in anyone’s book, that’s a tough negotiation.

So what is the key to crisis negotiating? According to the SCMP, it’s first about identifying what’s important for [...]

Nudging cross-border mediation forward

How do you get people to eat more fruit and less junk food?

How do you get more people to agree to donate their organs?

How do you get more people to engage in cross-border mediation?

I’ll come back to food and organs shortly. Let’s stay with mediation for a minute.

Within Asia, Hong Kong, Singapore and other centres are positioning themselves as regional leaders in cross-border mediation. Statistically though, there is not an enormous amount of cross-border mediation going on. International arbitration remains the process of choice.

At mediation conferences and other get-togethers, mediators and other ADR advocates ask themselves, why?

Some say it’s the lack of an international lega [...]