This year in the UK we are celebrating the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta, or “Great Charter”. Signed in 1215, it remains one of the most famous documents in the world, and central to the British constitution. In mediator parlance, it is a “settlement agreement”. It came into being as a compromise between King John of England and the Barons who challenged his authority, and it established for the first time that everyone, including the king, was subject to the law*.
Interestingly, and less well-known, this deal was mediated. Archbishop Stephen Langton stepped into the role, holding separate talks with each side to hear their grievances, and ultimately bringing them together [...]
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 [...]
As 2014 comes to an end, it is good to reflect. How privileged many of us are. I often remark to others that my “job” is better than “real work”. What do I mean when I say that?
As mediators, we have an extraordinary window through which we view life, other people and what happens in times of difficulty or distress. It is a vantage point which we need to cherish and respect.
In a period of ten days recently, I worked as a mediator in a number of diverse situations. These, anonymised here, have included an evening with townspeople explaining to a quarry operator their distress about the effects on a community of nearby blasting. I have sought to help a national sports body handle a very sensi [...]
This post is unlikely to win me friends on America’s West Coast and it may even see my US mediation teaching visa withdrawn, however when the issue even has its own Facebook group called Save the Mediation Joint Session and Promote Party Participation with over 50 of the world’s top mediators signed up, then the patient is more critical than I thought.
The rise and rise of the mediator’s proposal  and other evaluative interventions by many of our number, along with the relentless demise of the joint session, are all part of a larger lurch to the right for mediation practice.
And if we look for ground zero, inevitably all roads lead to Southern California where we are told the j [...]
For one more week only you have the chance to have your say on the enforcement of cross-border mediated settlement agreements. I encourage each and every one of you to offer your input.
Two surveys will be gathering input from dispute resolution professionals and others on the challenge of enforcing settlement agreements across borders.
The surveys are intended to provide empirical data to aid the decision making process for the proposed UNCITRAL settlement convention on the international enforcement of settlements reached in mediation.
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 [...]
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.[...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
Intellectual life is beset by ‘gap’ problems. Philosophers wrestle with the ‘mind-body problem’: the gap between material and non-material aspects of human existence. All science can be construed as an attempt to bridge the gap between what is and what we can imagine: an inductive corrective to deductive supposition. Roger Cotterrell describes law’s gap problem in these terms: “What is the relationship between law and social reality?” (Roger Cotterrell, Living Law: Studies in Legal and Social Theory. Farnham: Ashgate, 2008, p.21)
The field of conflict resolution has its own gap problem: the alleged gap between mediation and justice.
“[Mediation] does not contribute to su [...]