Aftercare, Chardonnay and Arizona

Sitting on a panel of mediators in front of an audience of US insurance lawyers last month the topic of mediation aftercare came up. The view on all sides was that when mediations do not settle on the day the mediator’s involvement in the days and weeks that follow is now routine and expected .

Parties expect the mediator to be in contact by phone and email, maybe even over coffee or in a reconvened smaller group. These exchanges can continue over weeks, even months. I have once or twice attended court in mid-trial just before the lunch adjournment at the invitation of the parties to meet them and try to break the deadlock.

Some counsel like a light touch, others want the mediator to push hard. Except in the few cases of truly angry termination (and sometimes even in those) aftercare is taken for granted

Why is it so productive? Companies and individuals can get painted into a corner on the day of the mediation. People get tired and frustrated. Big organisations can simply take time to process a new view of a case as they turn the proverbial super-tanker.

In the hour the panel took to address the conference (in Phoenix, Arizona) I received two text messages.

The first was an unremarkable inquiry from my daughter as to why there was no chardonnay in the fridge at home. But the second from the general counsel of a major media company read simply “Deal Done!”.  A potentially nasty trial between the organisation and its departing Chief Executive had been due to start the next working day. I had overseen an exchange of offers that morning in Phoenix (the afternoon in London) by telephone and email.

I would have punched the air but I was too busy being English.  Sometimes the aftercare seems to be more challenging and more rewarding than the surgery itself.

Eat Toast In Bed – Go to Sleep With Crumbs

Sometimes in mediation, I ever so gently broach the subject of responsibility. Take a construction defect case, and maybe also a joint venture dispute. In private with the claimant party, I wonder out loud what measure of responsibility might be factored in for their part of the dispute they now found themselves consumed by. I explain this may […]

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A Baptism of Fire

Returning to London for a series of mediations this spring my cure for  jet-lag is a one-day Civil Justice Council workshop on the role of ADR in the civil justice system. 90 people packed into the ballroom of a central London hotel: High Court Judges, District Judges, Employment Judges, solicitors, barristers, arbitrators, mediators, the voluntary […]

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Mediation: a cricketing metaphor

Recently, I was ruminating about analogies between cricket and mediation. Cricket is a much-loved sport in Scotland. Sadly, nowadays, changes in the climate mean that cricket in my home country is more often affected by summer rain and damp conditions than a generation ago. Its future is less certain as a result. I have always […]

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What The Directories Say…

BRICK COURT CHAMBERS boasts the leading mediation offering at the UK Bar, achieving several nominations this year including three of our most highly regarded practitioners. William Wood QC is “totally stunning in every respect” according to peers, who consider him “the best international mediator out there”. They praise his “beautifully light touch” and “would put […]

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