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Mediating for the long game

In recent weeks, I have had the privilege of mediating and facilitating in different matters with representatives of four governments . On one occasion they were on the same “side”; on another, notionally on different sides. A common theme to emerge was the needs and behaviours of political masters who were not present.

The representatives themselves were very aware of the need to try and build good relationships with their opposite numbers. That required a degree of honesty about the political realities. I could sense that frankness was helpful as it built confidence. It also allowed reflection on what could and couldn’t be done. Critically, the conversations were possible because of the f [...]

Legal costs and ‘Mediation Receptivity’

Scottish judges

In 2006 Frank Sander produced his ‘Mediation Receptivity Index’(22 Ohio State Journal on Dispute Resolution, 599-618). The MRI would be a way of discerning the extent of ‘mainstreaming’ or ‘institutionalization’ of mediation in different US states. It doesn’t seem to have caught on, but among the questions Sander lists are:

- number of professional mediators
- number of mediation firms
- extent of court programmes and numbers referred

- total public funds devoted to mediation
- number of professional schools teaching mediation, numbers of students, academic journals
- presence of ‘potential movers and shakers on behalf of mediation’
- mediation legislation

Justice, fairness and the law: another three-fold model

3 elements of justice

Regular readers of this blog will know that I am exercised by the question of justice in mediation. I test the concept on people I meet; responses range from “that’s an interesting idea” to “it has nothing whatever to do with it”. At a conference earlier this year a senior lawyer claimed he could count on the fingers of one hand how many clients had ever mentioned justice. Others thought people choose mediation precisely because they don’t want justice, but some other thing – compromise, perhaps, or a deal.

I’m not so sure. I have a hunch that matters of justice pervade our clients’ thinking. That leads to the question: what is justice? And the answer, of course, depends on who you ask [...]

What happens in Vienna… DOES NOT stay in Vienna

The saying “What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas” is one of the most famous taglines in modern tourism, meaning ….. well, you probably know what it means, don’t you ? However, differently from the Vegas perspective, my recent experience in Vienna is one that I definitely want to share with you.

In a week of lots of sun, fun and personal enrichment, leading experts from all over the world gathered in Vienna and shared their valuable thoughts on several topics associated to Consensual Dispute Resolution. Despite the variety of relevant subjects, some that attracted the most attention were:

(i) CDRC Vienna (organized by IBA-VIAC-ELSA) premier competition;
(ii) The IMI’s Global Pound Conferenc [...]

You are not Alone: Role of Counsels in Mediation

In Buenos Aires, the city where I currently practice mediation, mediation is mandatory before suing the other party. Thanks to this system, I was able to start mediating my first cases right after I was certified. After a few cases, however, I began to realize just how overwhelming it can be when parties’ advocates are already focused on the lawsuit and are not convinced of the advantages of mediation. Many perceive mediation as a mere bureaucratic step. In contrast, others embrace the mediation principle. And this is exactly what I have found to be essential for the achievement of a successful mediation: that advocates give us mediators the sense that we are not alone when conducting the [...]

More Questions for Mediators

This week, I have had the genuine privilege of contributing one of the key note addresses at the Annual Conference of the Arbitrators and Mediators Institute of New Zealand (AMINZ) in Wellington. It has been a terrific conference, superbly organized by the indefatigable Deborah Hart. The standard of the many and diverse sessions has been very high, indeed outstandingly so. There is some terrific work being done in New Zealand.

In the context of the conference theme of New Horizons, I posed a number of questions in my key note address. I hope to pull together the whole piece for publication, but here are the questions.

• What if the way in which we have sought to resolve difficult dispute [...]

Lawyers of the future on mediation: threat or a promise?

We have just reached the end of the annual marking season (grading for North Americans). The verbal joust of examinations is almost over. Students get their blows in first; teachers’ strike back with marks and comments. It’s a familiar ritual with its own rhythm and reasoning. It can be viewed as arduous by both sides but markers get a certain satisfaction from novel insights and perspectives; and a salutary reminder of what people actually remember.

For a mediator teaching in a law school there is an additional challenge. Students are being inducted into the great tradition of legal reasoning which sifts ‘irrelevant’ from ‘relevant’ matters in the march towards court. Ideas [...]

Mediation Games

John Nash died this week, in a tragic car accident. John Nash was the Nobel-prize winning mathematician whose theory of non-cooperative games published in 1950 has been described as one of the top ten ideas in economics in the 20th century.

His theory introduced and explored the concept of what is known as Nash equilibrium. According to the New York Times obituary, Nash equilibrium provides a conceptually simple but powerful mathematical tool for analysing a wide range of competitive situations, from corporate rivalries to legislative decision-making. It builds on the notion that, in most real world interactions, there is potential for more than a zero-sum game. Players’ interests are not [...]

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 [...]

“Justice” Report for England and Wales: A Missed Opportunity for Radical Change


‘Justice’, an “all-party law reform and human rights organisation working to strengthen the justice system” launched a new report on April 23rd entitled ‘DELIVERING JUSTICE IN AN AGE OF AUSTERITY’. The report could be described as a plan to deliver justice despite the cuts. It proposes a transformation of the court system in England and Wales, supplementing its venerable adversarial system with a more inquisitorial approach. Unfortunately the proposal, while altering both personnel and process, leaves untouched the mindset and philosophy of the justice system.

The report opens with a critique that it is “increasingly difficult for ordinary people to navigate an adversarial justice syst [...]