Areas of Mediation
My Approach to Mediation
I have been practising as a mediator for several years now and, like many mediators, I have developed my own style. However, I believe in a facilitative approach to mediation and this will dominate the type of mediation I offer.
Facilitative, interest-based mediation offers a greater possibility for creative solutions to disputes than a purely legal evaluation.
I believe that my role is to assist disputing parties to make their own decisions and evaluate their own situations. I want to ensure that parties come to agreements based on information and understanding. In coming to mediation, I want the the parties to have the major influence on decisions made, rather than their lawyers.
Mediation has many advantages to litigation, but sometimes there is an over emphasis on the lower costs and confidentiality. These advantages speak for themselves and are great aspects of mediation. However, a huge advantage is also the potential preservation of relationships between the parties, if not entirely, perhaps on some level. Parties can often maintain relationships after the mediation process as any agreement reached is their agreement, something they reached together.
Mediation is, at best, an alternative to legal proceedings, or occasionally it is a process that can provide the parties with a forum for “narrowing” the issues between them that they would ultimately want a Court to determine.
Mediation is not the solution to every dispute; sometimes parties would rather a Court or Tribunal comes to a decision regarding their dispute. But, increasingly, Courts and Tribunals are encouraging litigants to consider mediation as an alternative to the the traditional court, or litigation, process.
My Mediation Training & Experience
In July 2010 I qualified as a Certified Mediator (Mediation Institute of Ireland) and in September 2012 I qualified as a Family & Matrimonial Mediator with QuEST.
In August 2017 I took membership of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (MCIArb).
I continue my mediation education and training through Continuing Professional Development courses, conferences and peer feedback on an annual basis.
I have a very broad range of experience as a mediator from family disputes, commercial/civil litigation, wills disputes to professional negligence litigation.
All disputes that take advantage of mediation can be entirely resolved, or simply some issues resolved before going to Court.
Every mediation will be governed by the nature of the dispute, the number of parties involved and the complexity of the issues. However, generally the mediator will meet with the parties individually prior to the mediation and will send out an Agreement to Mediate that all parties, including the mediator, will sign.
Most mediations will last around a day with an agreement, normally in writing, signed by all parties. This agreement can be retained by the mediator, or by the parties. Sometimes, if an agreement needs some time to be “tried out”, it can be agreed to reconvene after a period of time. Alternatively, the parties can agree to proceed as per their agreement and contact the mediator if problems arise.
Ideally, the mediation will conclude with an agreement reached by the parties that is workable, with their relationship improved and to the extent that any “fine tuning” can be agreed between them. Most mediations end without requiring any further input from the mediator. Whilst this is the ideal conclusion every mediation is different.
Cases that I have mediated have been incredibly diverse from multi-party disputes to simple two party disputes; cases where some aspects are dealt with via Skype/Facetime; cases that are entirely resolved, partially resolved or where little or no agreement could be reached. No matter what the background, few parties leave the mediation process without feeling some benefit to having attended and engaging.
Whilst every case is different factually, normally the human aspects of any dispute are very similar, for example, a lack of communication, a lack of openness/honesty, parties not being willing to actively and respectfully listen to each other’s point of view, or just simple misunderstandings. Facilitating the parties to simply listen to each other can often be the key to beginning to reach compromise.
My Legal Background
I have been in private practice at the Bar of Northern Ireland for the last 17 years with a very broad practice including civil, matrimonial and commercial law.
In practice I offer legal advice to clients pursuing or defending claims in civil, commercial or family disputes. I will meet with clients as soon as possible after formal instruction and written advices will follow. I will then represent a client in any Court required.
The client is always the main focus of my approach to any case. I believe in achieving the best solution for my client and guiding my client effectively and compassionately through the legal process; potentially one of the most difficult and stressful experience of anyone’s life. Most stress in legal proceedings results from some confusion or through a lack of understanding of the law or procedure. I aspire to make the whole process as stress free as possible through honest, open, precise and independent advice. I will aim to ‘problem solve’ rather than prolong the process. These skills have provided me with a firm basis to build upon when mediating disputes.
My Other Interests
As well as being qualified as a certified Mediator with the Mediation Institute of Ireland, I am a Member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb) based in London.
Arbitration is a non-judicial process for the settlement of disputes where an independent third party - an arbitrator - makes a decision that is binding. The role of an Arbitrator is similar to that of a Judge, though the procedures are less formal. Arbitration is often a preferred option to trial because it can provide a faster, more efficient claims process.
I offer full advisory services on Arbitration generally, advice on the merits of an Arbitration and then advocacy services at any Arbitration, both domestically and internationally. Equally, I can act as an Arbitrator in any domestic or international dispute.
Given my broad experience in private practice of civil, commercial and family law, I can offer arbitration services in most areas that are required.