Brick Court home to “some of the most highly regarded” mediators in the world

The sixth edition of Who’s Who Legal: Mediation Analysis published this week features over 300 mediators across 52 countries selected as leaders in the field.

The UK Bar continues to be well represented, most notably by Brick Court Chambers whose “fantastic” mediation offering includes two of our most highly regarded individuals. Our research also highlights a number of stand-out individual practitioners.

Home to some of the most highly regarded individuals in our research, Brick Court Chambers continues to demonstrate the depth and breadth of its mediation expertise and its leading position at the UK Bar. The “absolutely charming and totally brilliant” William Wood QC is described by many as “one of the best mediators in England”. He has experience mediating in Dubai, Hong Kong, New York, Johannesburg, UK and Nairobi making his practice “truly international”. Considered “an elder statesman of the mediation field”, Tony Willis is recognised for his “distinctive ability to adapt to any given conflict”. For many respondents, Stephen Ruttle QC is “a truly sensational mediator” and is admired for his “instinctive and intuitive nature” when dealing with disputes in both the public and private sector. Geoff Sharp is a door tenant at the chambers and is “one of New Zealand’s pre-eminent mediators”. He possesses “vast experience mediating in Asia and the Middle East”. Also a door tenant at chambers is Core Solutions Group’s founder and chief executive, John Sturrock QC. He is regarded as “a seasoned expert in the field”, and is recognised for “the great ease with which he facilitates high-level disputes”.

The International Evolution of Mediation

pepp-10-logo-eduPepperdine University School of Law’s Tom Stipanowich and Karinya Verghese have recently published a well researched article exposing fascinating regional differences in mediation practice which include regional divergence such as the relative use or non-use of joint sessions; how mediators handle information received from parties in caucus and mediator evaluation and opinion giving.

The article is a revised and expanded version of lectures delivered by Tom as the New Zealand Law Foundation’s International Dispute Resolution Visiting Scholar. The full text is at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2712457

A Christmas Treat

post-carmel-bgBill Wood QC recently had the good fortune to co-mediate with retired US Federal Court Judge Layn Phillips of Newport Beach, California.

Take a moment out from your Christmas rush to watch a stunning short movie called The Mediatorwhere a cowboy mediator seeks to resolve a dispute between a boy and an Indian.

Beautifully shot, written and directed by two of Layn’s talented family, Graham and Parker Phillips, it’s so good you could even chalk it up to CPD.

… but it’s fair to say it doesn’t have the ending that most of us aim for.

Failure to Mediate… next case please

In the High Court: Gresport Finance Limited v Battaglia [2015] EWHC 2709 (Ch) the Chief Master found that the Defendant had agreed to a mediation but had then failed to attend and had failed to provide reasons for non attendance…. read more

The Client as Decision-Maker

The silence was palpable. Saying nothing is hard enough in normal circumstances. It’s doubly hard when sitting alongside the key players in a mediation, watching them inch towards a better understanding of what they need to do to achieve the deal they know they need to get to.

I found myself ostentatiously picking up my water glass and sipping from what little remained of the contents. I looked out of the window. Made eye contact with my assistant, who was watching her first full commercial mediation. Feigned writing some notes. It was so obvious, to me, what they needed to say. But they needed to find the words, not me.

And they did. From a position of complete impasse, they gradually demolished the assumptions which each had made and which had informed their legal advice, spawned two litigations and produced hundreds of pages of forensic accountancy analysis.

Neither had “duped” the other, as one party had earlier suggested. The provisions in the company accounts were nominal and payments recorded there had not in fact been made, contrary to the belief of the other party. They and their respective companies had not each benefited unfairly from the efforts of the other. They agreed that each faced financial ruin if the cases proceeded to the several weeks of trial to which they were heading. The scales fell away as they learned from each other what had actually happened with the contracts. Why hadn’t they talked? Too busy, more urgent things to do. Trust had broken down. They quickly defaulted to seeking legal advice. That advice had included not to talk to the other lest they compromised their positions.

Inexorably, they moved to a solution. But now they were far away from their starting points. They had to bring their colleagues along. And what about the lawyers? I spoke for the first time in a considerable while. Can you recommend to your colleagues what you have tentatively agreed between you? If so, go and speak to your colleagues. I’ll ask the lawyers to join me in the main plenary room while you do that.

An hour later, after further meetings with me privately and then jointly, the clients walked into the plenary room and informed their lawyers (and the forensic accountants) that the deal was done. Relief all round. I knew that the lawyers would be fine with this. I’d got the nod a while ago. The dispute was too difficult to be resolved simply by representatives. They needed their clients to engage.

The return of this kind of autonomy to the clients as decision makers is, I believe, one of the most important contributions that mediation can make. Perhaps too often, clients have tended to defer to legal advisers, and the lawyers, understandably (but perhaps in a rather paternalistic way) have assumed responsibility. But lawyers can confidently let go in situations like this. They, and the mediators, need to liberate the clients.