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Mediating Early And Late

It’s not always easy to spot trends. But one that I have noticed over the last year or two is an increase in the number of cases I am being asked to mediate in which litigation or arbitration proceedings have not yet been issued.

This produces different challenges. On the upside:

• The parties have not had years in which to entrench themselves in the unerring rightness of their cause, nor the irredeemable evil of their opponents. We have all seen the effect that many years of commitment to a particular position can have. Trying to encourage any other perspective after so long can be hard.

• The parties are generally less heavily invested in the case after a shorter time. Thi [...]

The 2016 Global Pound Conference Series!

Global-Pound_mid_-resolution_finalIn April 1976, an event now known as the Pound Conference ignited modern ADR in the USA, launching discussion of what may have become the “greatest reform in the history of the country’s judicial system”.1 Forty years later, all stakeholders in the dispute prevention and resolution fields around the world are being invited to participate in a series of unique thought leadership events around the globe under the auspices of a Global Pound Conference (“GPC”) series.

The GPC has a remarkable goal: to shape the future of dispute resolution and access to justice in the 21st Century.

An invitation to shape the future of dispute resolution

The bold program, which will generate debate an [...]

When mediation isn’t mediation at all…

At the risk of being accused of being too much of a purist, I just have to have a little grumble about the latest misappropriation of the term mediation. All involved in promoting and encouraging the use of mediation know how one of the largest barriers to people availing of this process is the lack of understanding of its key principles and how it really works. The fallout from Garth Brooks’ plans to rock Dublin over five consecutive nights this month has, very publicly, confused the issue once again.
Mr. Brooks, in fairness, was not at fault here, merely deciding to bow to the begging of his fans and put on five shows in a row. These shows are (were) to be held in Dublin’s largest stad [...]

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 [...]

In Youth We Trust

On the day when the finals of the world’s largest ADR student competition starts, I could not think of any better topic for my blog posting. I have been teaching and coaching students for the last eleven years, and it has become an important part of my life and a highly rewarding experience. Consequently, I have no doubt that there is no better way of promoting ADR than bringing it closer to people in the form of reality-based simulations, exercises and role-plays. Students enjoy learning by doing, and welcome their “moot” experience enthusiastically. The competition teaches them to how to think out of the box and work together as a team.

The Willem C Vis International Commercial Arb [...]

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 [...]

Reflections on Cologne University’s Summer Academy in Mediation

Each September for the past 11 years, Cologne University, under the auspices of CENTRAL (the Center for Transnational Law:, and in Association with the German Institution of Arbitration (DIS: has hosted a Summer Academy in International Commercial Arbitration. More recently – 8 years ago – an academy on mediation was added, to run alongside that arbitration programme. I’ve been fortunate enough to be involved with the mediation programme for the past four years, facilitating the first two days of the four-day programme.

Each academy attracts a range of young participants – it is aimed at “emerging” professionals hoping to kickstart their dispu [...]

Part 3 – Empowering the Growth of International ADR

This is the final posting of a 3-part series. Previous posts in the series noted the gathering tempest being whipped up by opacity in ADR practice. How can structural change help the ship steer towards modernity?

User demand for more information and higher professional standards in ADR is unequivocal.

An international institution is needed to address the global user demand, particularly in arbitration, conciliation and similar methods of resolving international commercial disputes. That institution should preferably not be a service provider.

Ideally it should be a new entity, without an historical footprint, established as a collaboration of the demand and supply sides of the arbitra [...]

Part 2 – Empowering the Growth of International ADR: Cries for change

Part 1 of this post touched on rumblings for more transparency in arbitration. But there is more than the distant sound of thunder, and it’s coming closer.

As arbitration and mediation are both highly competitive and fragmented fields, it is hard for providers to act collectively. Yet they must. The only forums where arbitration organizations come together at an international level conferences of the ABA Section of Dispute Resolution, the Institute for Transnational Arbitration (ITA) and the International Council for Commercial Arbitration (ICCA). Mediation providers have the annual UIA World Forum of Mediation Centers. Industry change to address user demand rarely gets discussed at [...]

Resolving – and avoiding – construction disputes: notes from the ICC-FIDIC conference

On 25th and 26th June, the ICC and FIDIC (International Federation of Consulting Engineers: hosted their annual conference in Paris. While most of the discussion was, understandably, concerned with either arbitration or adjudication – the latter involving primarily Disputes Boards ( acting under FIDIC contracts – mediation made an appearance at a number of points. The principal issues concerning arbitrators, contractors, and lawyers include, at least: the international and cross-border relevance of contractual forms that are primarily “Anglo Saxon”, the assurance of due process or procedural fairness standards, the recognition and enforcement o [...]