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Mediated Settlement of BC Teachers’ Strike

The high profile mediation story in Canada in recent weeks has been the efforts of west coast mediator Vince Ready to get a deal between the striking B.C. Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) and the government of British Columbia. The strike had already cost students 4 weeks of school and with the parties deeply dug in there was no settlement in sight. Indeed, mediator Ready had conducted a round of exploratory discussions in late August and announced that there was nothing he could do. For a mediator it’s eerie to watch the video of Ready  announcing he’s walking away from the fight - something that mediators do not do lightly.

Then, in mid-September, mediated talks were suddenly back on and on [...]

Deal or no deal in high profile hockey case?

Hockey is a deeply ingrained part of the Canadian identity so it’s not surprising that the Country has been abuzz this week around the question: “Has a high profile 10-year old case been settled through mediation or not?”

The case, Moore v. Bertuzzi et al,  arose from events that occurred during a National Hockey League (NHL) match in March 0f 2004. The incident has its own Wikipedia page which can be viewed here. The ending of Steve Moore’s career spawned a decade long law suit which was coming to trial next month. The trial would have generated considerable interest as it would have involved a full expose of the so-called “fight culture” of the NHL (see here for example); not something th [...]

Mediation Prey

I’ve got to admit that the John Sandford “Prey” crime novels, featuring the complex detective Lucas Davenport, are a guilty pleasure of mine, both in text and particularly audiobook formats. I can usually get through an unabridged audiobook during one of my frequent return car trips between Ottawa, where I live, and Toronto, where I now mediate about 80% of my cases.

The concept of “prey” (in the sense of “take advantage of; exploit or injure; cause constant trouble or distress to”) comes to mind as I read and re-read two recent thought-provoking posts on this blog: Jeff Krivis’ June 16th post, “Settlement Drift” and Michael Landrum’s post, exactly a month later, “Top Ten Miscellaneous Obser [...]

Skiing the Moguls in Mediation



Many years ago I was an avid downhill skier. Nothing took my mind off the pressures of practice like a sun-filled cobalt blue morning sky and a virgin white blanket of new fallen snow to carve my way through. Moguls – those mini-mountains of snow that form on some runs – never failed to induce fear in me. Perched at the top of a triple-diamond mogul run my mind swung between terror and anticipation and I learned over time that the only way to avoid a spill was to let go of the fear and with it the stiffness and the tension in my body. I learned not to focus on each individual mogul but rather to accept the contours of the run as a whole and simply believe all would be well. Mostly it was.

Supreme Court of Canada rules on mediation confidentiality following settlement


Earlier this month the Supreme Court of Canada issued its unanimous decision in Union Carbide Canada Inc. v. Bombardier Inc., 2014 SCC 35. The reasons of Mr. Justice Wagner deal with an unfortunate situation in which Bombardier, which had been suing Union Carbide for more than a decade seeking CAN$30 million  related to allegedly defective gas tanks on Sea-Doo personal watercraft, thought it had achieved a settlement following a mediation only to discover that Union Carbide had a much different idea regarding what, in fact, had been settled.

The issue was whether the provisions of a standard mediation agreement providing, “Nothing which transpires in the Mediation will be alleged, referred [...]

The Big Picture

Story telling and humor are among the essential tools in any mediator’s kit. Of course, when it comes to humor, mediators learn early in their career that the self-deprecating variety is usually the safest choice. This turns out to be quite good for me since in my life there is no shortage of material to draw on.

In an insurance mediation this week I told a story of a somewhat embarrassing incident in which I had been involved recently. I thought readers of this blog might find the story both interesting and instructive.

I’m a neophyte photographer. I enjoy spending a sunny morning with my digital SLR snapping pictures of the various birds and flowers that grace my backyard. Here’s a recent [...]

Ontario Decision Highlights Settlement Related Issues in Mediation

The recent Ontario Superior Court decision of Healy J. in Southlake Regional Health Centre v. Beswick Group Properties touches on a number of issues arising from settlement at mediation.

Briefly, this was a landlord and tenant dispute relating to a Medical Arts Building and other development lands. The full factual background can be read by linking to the decision above. Basically the landlord and tenant sued each other in 2011 alleging various breaches of a development agreement and lease. Those disputes went to mediation with Larry Banack, a well known and highly respected Ontario mediator, in September 2013 and a settlement was reached. The mediator drafted the Settlement Agreement which [...]

Mediation Roundup from the Polar Vortex

Greetings from the heart of the Polar Vortex!

Yes, it’s been a brutally cold and snowy winter here in Ontario, Canada, but now, in late February, the lengthening days and (relatively) warmer temperatures remind me of that point in a mediation when it seems that all hope of resolution has forever frozen over and yet, with mediator encouragement and persistence, small cracks appears in the ice, the parties’ attitudes slowly begin to thaw and one can discern the stirring buds of resolution, just below the surface, imbued with nature’s force, striving to burst forth into the sunlight. (Ed. note: enough, surely!)

Agreements to Mediate and Limitation Periods

Section 11 of the Limitations Act (Onta [...]

Opening Offers in Mediation

An article by Donalee Moulton in the January 24th issue of The Lawyers Weekly entitled, “Opening offers can make or break a deal” caught my attention and caused me to reflect on my own experience from approximately 3,000 mediations conducted over the past 22 years.

I urge readers to look a the Lawyers Weekly article as well as some of the other web resources on this topic including this posting by Matthew Rushton and this by the Hon. Jay C. Gandhi.

Much of the advice boils down to, “don’t be afraid to make the first offer in mediation, so long as it’s a reasonable offer, because by so doing you are anchoring the negotiation that follows and research shows that this “anchoring eff [...]

Mediation Conduct Punished by Costs.

Should the conduct of a party in mediation be taken into account in setting cost consequences once the dispute has been adjudicated?

An insurer has been “spanked” to the tune of $60,000 by an Ontario Court for failure to participate in a mediation in “any meaningful sense”. The cost decision of Mr. Justice Ramsay in Ross v. Bacchus, 2013 ONSC 7773 (CanLII) creates the occasion to reflect on this important issue.

Briefly, the case facts are that the plaintiff, injured in a motor vehicle accident, was awarded $248,000 after a six day trial. The plaintiff then asked for $140,000 for costs, augmented by another $60,000 for the defendant’s failure to comply with its obligations under th [...]