Rely on the most comprehensive, up-to-date legal content designed and curated by lawyers for lawyers
Work faster and smarter to improve your drafting productivity without increasing risk
Accelerate the creation and use of high quality and trusted legal documents and forms
Streamline how you manage your legal business with proven tools and processes
Manage risk and compliance in your organisation to reduce your risk profile
Stay up to date and informed with insights from our trusted experts, news and information sources
Access the best content in the industry, effortlessly — confident that your news is trustworthy and up to date.
With over 30 practice areas, we have all bases covered. Find out how we can help
Our trusted tax intelligence solutions, highly-regarded exam training and education materials help guide and tutor Tax professionals
Regulatory, business information and analytics solutions that help professionals make better decisions
A leading provider of software platforms for professional services firms
In-depth analysis, commentary and practical information to help you protect your business
Printer Friendly Version
As Mediation Awareness Week approaches on 8 October 2016, Bill Marsh, full-time mediator with Independent Mediators, explains the many ways in which mediation is valuable.
Mediation Awareness Week is a new charity, focussed on specific events to bring mediation more into the public eye, and to support the government in promoting it. The trustees are all mediators, and the patron is Sir Alan Ward QC, chairman of the Civil
Mediation Council, former High Court judge and former Lord Justice of Appeal.
Although mediation has made huge strides into public and business life over the last 20–30 years, there is still much more to be done. In particular, many people are still not aware that mediation is a serious option for them in resolving disputes
of all kinds—business, family, community, schools, and so on. A focus on mediation for a specific week will give mediation’s profile a useful shot in the arm.
We should not lose sight of how far mediation has already come. When I first become involved in 1990, mediation was more or less unknown in the court system—now it is a mainstream part of that. But undoubtedly it can, and needs, to go further. Deeper
penetration is partly a question of publicity and awareness (hence events such as Mediation Awareness Week) and partly a question of substantive reform and policy initiatives. For example, the government’s alternative dispute resolution (ADR)
pledge, in which it committed to use mediation in commercial and civil disputes to which it is a party, went a long way towards establishing credibility and usage of mediation.
The issue is not so much about establishing that mediation is ‘better’ than other forms of dispute resolution, but rather about people understanding its particular features and value, and hence understanding when to use it. There are of course
many benefits, but most of the parties I work with indicate in particular that:
If they can reach an agreement and not have an unresolved issue hanging over them for longer, that is very valuable. For businesses, it enables more accurate budget planning and the chance to re-focus away from the dispute, and back on to value generation.
For individuals, it enables them to get on with their lives.
There is no doubt that parties benefit from curtailing their expenditure on the legal system. Take the recent announcement that FTSE 100 businesses set aside a record £31.3bn to pay legal bills and regulatory fines last year—22% more than
previously. This is serious money, and any inroad which mediation can make into that will produce significant savings for business.
Courts pick winners, and can then only impose a limited range of outcomes. Mediation offers the chance to tailor a deal to the specific needs of the parties in a far more bespoke way. Many parties I work with express how valuable this is.
Mediation in this country started as a reflection not of legal reform, but of the desire of in-house counsel and some private practice lawyers to find better solutions to business disputes, at more appropriate cost. It did not begin with legal reform,
either at national or European level. While such reform has been valuable, the engine room of mediation (at least in the commercial arena) is the desire and need of the business community to find ways to manage and resolve disputes more effectively.
So, personally, I am relatively relaxed about reform of the EU Mediation Directive 2008/52/EC. It is worth noting, however, that in many other countries mediation has begun as a result of legal reform, not business initiative. And for these countries,
the Mediation Directive and their national laws are much more significant.
Bill Marsh is one of the UK’s most experienced and highly regarded commercial mediators. Involved in full-time mediation since 1991, he has successfully mediated a wide cross-section of commercial disputes, both in the UK and internationally. In 2014–15, Bill was named ‘Global Mediator of the Year’ by Who’s Who Legal.
Interviewed by Kate Beaumont.
The views expressed by our Legal Analysis interviewees are not necessarily those of the proprietor.
This analysis was first published on Lexis®PSL Dispute Resolution. Lexis®PSL subscribers can enjoy expert guidance
by accessing some of the links below. If you are not a subscriber, you can take a free trial of Lexis®PSL Dispute Resolution here.
0330 161 1234