RESOLUTION and the tactic of mediation Should family mediation work alongside justice?

Some of you may know that I am on the verge of High Court litigation with the National Committee of Resolution (‘NC’). This saddens me. My requests to NC to mediate have been met with silence. Their NC seems to me to ‘represent’ the membership in only the most technical sense. For example, they will not (or cannot), find minutes for the decision I challenge.

Of mediation, NC now employs a lawyer http://www.mills-reeve.com/richard-dawson-gerrard/, who agrees to mediate, only if he knows everything. Thus far I may still know nothing. He says on his firm’s web-site, that ‘one of my proudest moments’ was to use mediation to force through a tactic in litigation (so what hope have his clients and I?):

‘Supporting my clients’ objectives

‘I have previously acted for a large family business facing a major product liability claim without insurance. A loss would have meant devastating consequences for the business and the family, as the company held significant cash reserves. The strategy was key to buy time to restructure and reduce risk but not to show weakness. Through detailed work with our client on the technical evidence and by using the court process to its full extent we bought time and at mediation pushed the opponent into capitulating and paying our costs. This positive result for longstanding clients, who are now my friends, was one of my proudest moments.’

He is not a family mediator, so he may be entitled to different ethics – an interesting question, in itself, for the future of family mediation. Does the above quote sits uneasily with the main mediation aims of most Resolution members? The NC lawyer’s first duty, namely to the court, seems blurred, or might think the casual reader. Many of us prefer to see justice: and, I would guess, to see mediation as working in parallel, and supporting justice. This lawyer – himself professedly a mediator – seems to see it as a tool for a solely partisan approach.

Or do I self-serve, and over-react? The above may be special pleading in my case, and with my particular issue with NC. That to one side, does the concept of family mediators serving justice; of family mediators seeking to settle cases fairly for the parties; and, pending final resolution, of family mediators working in parallel with fairness: does all that sound too pious? Or, as a general set of short propositions, could it work?

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