In my legal practice (principally construction, insurance and commercial litigation) I have appointed many Mediators over the years and, like most lawyers, I had my favourites. I developed a clear understanding of what skills I expected the Mediator to demonstrate. In no particular order, a good Mediator will be honest, honourable, reliable, adaptable, persistent, creative, likeable, patient, assertive, energetic and wise. He or she will understand on an intuitive level the dynamics of a negotiation; read people well; know when to speak and when to shut up; and have a mastery of the anatomy of the conflict (both legal, commercial and psychological). Body language needs to reflect all of these qualities or they may look contrived. Above all he the Mediator must be completely neutral and must continually demonstrate his or her neutrality.
I believe that the personal qualities of a Mediator are more important than particular areas of legal specialism. I am comfortable mediating almost all kinds of civil or commercial dispute. By the time a case comes to mediation, the issues have generally crystallised sufficiently for an experienced and competent lawyer-neutral to understand them, regardless of subject-matter. But, much more importantly, mediations are not about issues, they are about interests. In almost every mediation the sooner the disputants stop talking about the issues and start focusing on their interests, the sooner we all go home.
I would describe my style of mediating as “relaxed but focused”. I like to engage with participants on a personal level, and find out what is influencing them in the context their dispute. Rapport building is essential for me and I try to achieve this quickly, usually during the first private session, because this establishes the trust that enables me to go deeper into exploring positions, assumptions, risk and cost. I do not shy away from tough reality testing – unless it would clearly be counter-productive to do so. I am direct in the way I explore the issues, but I never seek to embarrass or undermine anyone present. That does not mean that tough conversations do not take place; they frequently do.
I accept mediation appointments throughout the UK and internationally. I am a Member of the Civil Mediation Council. I subscribe to the European Code of Conduct for Mediators. I carry professional indemnity insurance, details available on request.
My note entitled The Mediation Day – What To Expect, explains a typical mediation and how I generally conduct it.
I always ask for feedback on my performance; it helps my professional development and keeps me on my toes. For details of recent feedback from disputants click here.