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The Big Picture

Story telling and humor are among the essential tools in any mediator’s kit. Of course, when it comes to humor, mediator’s 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 [...]

A False ‘Prince Charming’ Keeps ‘Sleeping Beauty’ in a Coma: On Voluntary Mediation Being the True Oxymoron of Dispute Resolution Policy

The recent publication of a study conducted for the European Parliament on Mediation, “Rebooting the Mediation Directive,” has contributed to the ongoing debate about effective mediation policy. I am the coordinator of that Study, whose results were based on 816 questionnaires completed by respondents from the 28 member states of the EU.

The Study determined that mediation in the EU is still the “Sleeping Beauty” I first heard about when I decided to enter this field 20 years ago. Despite many decades of stagnation, renewed enthusiasm and repeated efforts to revive her, the consensus seems to be that our princess is more than just asleep. The Study concluded that unless “elements o [...]

An Asian Switzerland, Expectation and Regret

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Having last week returned to New Zealand from Singapore where I was honoured take part in the launch of the ICC Mediation Rules, I saw first hand the support for mediation in Singapore from powerful institutions like the Singapore Judiciary and the Ministry of Law.

Singapore, and my guess is Asia in general, is in the grip of a trade boom – from my hotel window it showed. I counted well over 100 large ships at anchor in the bay awaiting their turn to come along side the container  port.  This amazing country, lacking in land and natural resources of its own, unloads raw materials and later exports them after refining, value adding and reshaping them. In this way, Singapore has become th [...]

“I am what I am” – Don’t Stereotype

It is not an April Fool´s Day hoax. On April first 2014, Brazil will effectively become the 79th country to adopt the United Nations’ Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (also known as CISG(*)). Although Brazil already adopts several principles of the Convention, this is, no doubt, a great step forward, as CISG signatories are responsible for a large proportion of the world’s trade of goods and the recognition and adoption of an internationally accepted legal framework will help the country to be seen with “different eyes” by the international trading community.

As I was trying to further understand the real impact for Brazil as a formal CISG signatory member [...]

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 [...]

10 Tips for Teams at the ICC International Commercial Mediation Competition 2014

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The annual ICC Commercial Mediation Competition is about to kick off in Paris, France on 7 February 2014 and as I write this 500 students from over 40 countries will be making their way to The City of Light by trains, planes and bus.

Teams are drawn from law and business schools across the globe and 120 of the world’s leading commercial mediators and corporate representatives will play their part as judges and mediators.

Over 6 days in the dead of a Paris winter there will be 200+ mock mediation sessions with numerous training programmes and social events - all held in the smartest of Paris law firms like Clifford Chance, Linklaters, Eversheds and McDermott Will & Emery.

So, to the stud [...]

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 [...]

The Third Mediation Space; the humble corridor encounter

HallThis is where I did my best work in Christmas week – in the twilight zone between the joint session room to the right of the water cooler and the private caucus room off to the left by the green bins.

Corridors can be furtive and risky spaces on mediation days – ‘don’t ask me to cross the centre line, but I’m quite close to it’ kinds of places, ideal for short line ups of lawyers or parties.

My technique has evolved quite differently in each of these three spaces: caucus, joint and corridor– so differently I wish someone would legitimise the humble corridor encounter by giving it a fancy name and teaching a course on it.

My take on corridor encounters is that they are very diff [...]

Socially Responsible Companies Create Value to their Shareholders

It is almost a consensus nowadays that large and small companies, regardless of their business activity or industry segment, must integrate in their corporate and operational strategies a variety of social, economical, and environmental elements in order to not only effectively satisfy all stakeholders, but also to remain sustainable and competitive in the long run.

This trend started a few years back when financial investors, in addition to looking into their traditional investment tools (ratios, financial analysis), decided to add a social element into their decision making process, creating sustainability ratios in order to measure and evaluate other dimensions which, until then, had been [...]

New ICC Mediation Rules Unveiled at Global Launch

The new ICC Rules of Mediation were unveiled this week at a global launch in Paris.

Coming into force on 1 January 2014, the new ICC Rules will replace the ICC ADR Rules that have been used for amicable dispute resolution worldwide since 2001. The new Rules have been adapted to help parties resolve even the most complex cross-border disputes quickly and reliably. Changes include the setting of mediation as the default technique, as well as increased support from the ICC International Centre for ADR, the body administering the new Rules.

Hannah Tuempel, Senior Counsel and Manager of the ICC International Centre for ADR, noted the positive response from business: “The new ICC Rules of Mediatio [...]