This week

That’s not mediation


Maria’s Midweek Mindfulness 


The Wednesday Whisper 


A cautionary tale

As I listen to the interviews on the Post Office Inquiry, the scale of the lies, deceit and cover up seems to increase in magnitude by the day,

Once it became clear that Horizon was not as ‘robust’ as proclaimed and that the evidence on which convictions were based was not safe, a mediation scheme was set up.

For anyone unfamiliar with mediation, it is a process where an impartial third party helps disputing parties to reach an agreement. The parties, not the mediator, decide the terms of the agreement.

So it’s imperative that both parties attend with the intention of settling the matter and, where there is to be a financial settlement, those that attend have the authority to settle which means they can take part in negotiations and make a binding agreement.

The mediator facilitates the dialogue, helps everyone get heard and supports the parties in what is often called principled negotiation. It is a confidential process where the parties can explore possibilities and discuss their differences without any of the content being used in court because the mediation is confidential.

It now appears that in a large number of the mediation cases, the lawyers for the Post Office advised the Post Office representatives to go to mediation but not to settle. This is not mediation. It is a travesty. Arriving with no intention to negotiate and hiding that fact before entering into the process can only be described as deceitful and manipulative.

You see, if you have no intention to settle then the only possible reason you turn up to  mediation session is to find out what the other side knows or what other evidence they have.

Mediation has many benefits. It is confidential. It allows you to explore possibilities and talk about outcomes that a judge couldn’t rule, for example, a swap or working a payment off. It doesn’t set precedents so settlements can be private. It is voluntary so if it fails, you are in no worse position than you were before. And, you at least have a say in the negotiations unlike receiving a judgement which can be a lottery.

And, even with all that, there is a caution, in the wrong hands, mediation may expose more information to the other side who had no intention to settle as in the case of the Post Office.


Maria’s Midweek Mindfulness 

In DRM Mediation we always conduct thorough one to one sessions with both sides before we ever set up a joint meeting. We work separately with each participant to understand their motivation, prepare them for the best and the worst case scenarios and ensure they are authorised to make an agreement. In the right hands mediation can be an absolute gift but it can also be a mistake.


The Wednesday Whisper

Have you ever been in mediation? How was your experience? Are you a mediator? What was your finest hour and your worst hour?

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