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Lessons in Life for Mediators?

I am interested in convergence – of ideas, of behaviour, of trends, of different disciplines. The more I read, the more common themes I discern in the arts, science, spirituality, leadership and in what we do as mediators. A reflection of this is found in the African concept of ubuntu, “the profound sense that we are human only through the humanity of others.” These are the words of Nelson Mandela. Ironically, one of the finest books I have come across recently which encourages this idea of convergence is Mandela’s Way: Lessons in Life, by Mandela’s biographer, Richard Stengel.

In fifteen short chapters, Stengel captures the essence of what made Mandela special – and each one of [...]

Czech Innovation

Hradec Kralove

Czech Innovation: “Mediation Assistants”

Fascinating visit to the Czech Republic recently. I was asked to provide the training for a group of ‘mediation assistants’. Never having heard the term before I was intrigued. I flew to Prague (stag-night capital of Europe) and after a reasonably terrifying drive through a rainstorm arrived in in Hradec Králové, the country’s 8th largest city. Away from Prague’s metropolitan tourism the area is largely agricultural with a fair amount of unemployment. Against this backdrop my hosts had made their bold proposal to the EU to provide employment opportunities by training people as ‘mediation assistants’.

So who is a mediation assist [...]

Contrasting mediations….richness awaits…..

I write here about two contrasting experiences which have, for me, underscored the richness of the mediation process.

In one mediation, involving business partners with an ongoing management issue, one of the protagonists (A) suggested bringing in another partner (D) who was not perceived to be a part of the present problem, simply to observe, be a resource to the participants and help balance numbers as A, a more junior partner, felt outnumbered by B and C who held senior positions.

D made clear at the outset that he did not wish to say much and that he did not wish to become embroiled. However, a private meeting with him elicited much information that seemed helpful going forward. Rather [...]

Falling Upward?

I have been reflecting recently on the individual and collective professional journeys we all undertake – and on the different stages we reach. My reading has taken me to a thought-provoking book by theologian Richard Rohr, entitled Falling Upward.

Rohr’s thesis, put very simply, is that there are two stages to life. The first, necessary, stage involves building up a career with an identity, fulfilling ambition, acquiring material things, seeking security and achieving status. The second stage, which not everyone reaches, incorporates and transcends the first as we achieve a certain peace, appreciate the important things, accept things as they are and subordinate the ego. It involves unlea [...]

Helping Businesses Doing Business

I have heard the title of today’s post during CPR’s Business Mediation Congress , which took place last week in Brazil. It couldn’t be more correct: companies should not be in the litigation business, but in the business of doing business.

With vast participation from different segments of the local business community, two important topics reached the top of the agenda of the Congress:

1) How companies can implement and benefit from Mediation and other forms of ADR;

2) The current belief that the use of “specialist” Mediators in corporate cases is more effective than the use of “generalists.”

As these two topics are very different from each other and, due to their relevance and [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

The Mediation Orchestra

Recently, one of the greatest maestros of our time passed away: Italian conductor Claudio Abbado. He led some of the most prestigious classical music institutions in the twentieth century. He served as music director of the La Scala opera house in Milan, principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra, and principal conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic orchestra.

Among several recordings that Abbado left us, we could highlight his amazing performances in the opera The Barber of Seville, Mahler´s Symphony No 3. and Ravel´s Piano Concerto.

Abbado usually conducted without looking at the score to show off his familiarity with the piece. He was also known for his undisguised perfectionism [...]

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 [...]