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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 [...]

Confessions of a Trial Lawyer

yellingWe got off on the wrong foot right from the start.

It was a boat building case and the detail was overwhelming. Too many gudgeons, pintles and bulwarks and by the time we got to a 3 day hearing, it had become the most toxic professional relationship with a counterpart lawyer of my young career.

A day and a half into the trial, partly because of the mindless detail, partly because the judge had bigger fish to fry, counsel were told to go away and settle. I looked blankly at the Judge, avoided the stare of my counterpart, and packed up my papers spread across the Bar table. Since opposite counsel was from out of town, we made our way separately to my firm’s boardroom five minutes up the roa [...]

Mediation Mastery

I was all set to write about climate change and, more particularly, to reflect on some excellent writing on that subject which addresses so-called climate change sceptics or deniers. It seems to me that there is much to be learned about the motivations and psychology which affect such people and which can easily be read across to help us understand the resistance that is still so prevalent to mediation.

However, I can keep that blog for next time as the best thing I can do now is to commend a truly excellent new book entitled How to Master Commercial Mediation, authored by David Richbell, one of the real father figures of mediation in Europe, together with 85 other contributors. I confess th [...]

The Big Irish “What If?”

A couple of years ago in January I wrote a post on likely developments in Ireland in the New Year which, if I recall correctly, had the expression “High Hopes” in the title. Those hopes related primarily to the publication of a new, comprehensive piece of legislation on mediation and the impact it might have upon the practice and profession of mediation. Two years down the road, Ireland’s mediators can be forgiven for feeling nothing but disappointment and frustration.
The General Scheme of the Mediation Bill was indeed published in 2012 and, pursuant to a changed legislative process, a consultation period and public hearing at the Joint Committee on Justice, Equality and Defence took [...]

Who’s Running The Show?

Something is in the air at the moment. And it goes to the heart of what we mediators do.

On the one hand, noted mediation thinkers such as Robert Bush and Joseph Folger write an empassioned challenge to the profession “Reclaiming Mediation’s Future: Getting Over the Intoxication of Expertise, Re-Focusing on Party Self-Determination”, arguing that mediation has shifted radically away from the party self-determination which is its essence. They maintain that the context in which many mediations take place – the court system – has over-influenced the behaviour of mediators themselves, noting that:

“We were drawn in by the culture of helping, the drug-like “high” of reachin [...]

Mediator’s Proposals? A Story…

I have never been a great fan of mediator’s proposals. I took the view that the mediator’s job, done well, was to help the parties to come to a solution themselves. Party autonomy and all that. Achieving a satisfactory outcome, I thought, shouldn’t require a specific suggestion by the mediator.

I have changed my view. As usual, experience is a great teacher. As is improvisation. Here’s what happened. After several hours of to-ing and fro-ing, and with a still significant gap between them, the mediator brought the principals together to meet with him, without their legal advisers (and with the advisers’ permission and encouragement). They talked for a while about their respective claims and [...]

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 [...]

Mediation Magic

I believe that by now you all had enough of my comments on the 2014 FIFA World Cup. So let’s move on to other aspects of life.

Last month, IBA’s Mediation Committee organized a regional meeting in Brazil in order to discuss the latest trends in Commercial Mediation. The event was supported by Veirano Law Firm, one of the most prestigious Firms in Brazil, and was attended by several lawyers, in house counsels and members of the public sector, some of them hearing about mediation for the first time. In addition to being a great success, the event could be seen as another small step towards increasing the general awareness level of Commercial Mediation in the country.

Although I could pr [...]

It only takes a few moments……

It was just a few moments. “You can’t play on our course without proper golf shoes.” “But we played here two days ago in these shoes.” “My colleague must have made a mistake”. “But it was you who let us play…”. “It’s in our rules.” “Where?” “Here.” “No it’s not. There is nothing about soft spikes. Only shirts with collars…”

Those few moments remain seared on my brain. Out of the window went respect and courtesy. The trigger had been triggered. After a futile exchange, we grudgingly accepted the starter’s offer of golf shoes to wear, free of charge. And then there was the “you must have a bag each” rule. On a hotel 9-hole course? Forgive me but [...]

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 [...]

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