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News & opinion

13 SEP 2018

Mediation merits for lawyers

Disputes are becoming an increasingly expensive drain on company resources, typically dragging on for months and, in some cases, years.

Mediation as a method of Alternate Dispute Resolution, is gaining traction in the region, with stakeholders understanding that it allows parties to achieve an efficient and cost-effective settlement of disputes.

From hundreds of years ago to current day disputes, mediation is a preferred method of settling inheritance and family disputes in the Middle East. Historically, it has been the tool to resolve issues between tribes and neighbouring countries, and what makes mediation practised in this region distinguishable from others around the world is the respect both parties give to the mediator, making it difficult for parties to withdraw from the process or terminate mediation.

Why should lawyers have mediation skills?

Mediation allows for parties to achieve an efficient and inexpensive settlement of disputes, assisting them in saving resources and management time.

Commercial businesses are increasingly turning to ADR to manage and resolve disputes with their clients and contracting parties. This means that their lawyers should have an in-depth understanding of mediation, and alternative dispute resolution processes.

Dr John Fletcher, RICS Product Group Director ADR

There are a number of reasons why lawyers can benefit from attaining mediation skills, including:

  • Parties contemplating mediation will often seek advice from lawyers. Those who are trained in mediation skills will be better placed to advise clients and represent them in the mediation process 
  • Parties often desire mediators who are also lawyers, especially when the issues in a dispute are legal in nature 
  • Mediators must be exceptional negotiators. Mediation training helps lawyers to hone and improve their negotiation skills. It teaches them how to negotiate effective outcomes under pressure 
  • In the evaluative model of mediation, lawyers are particularly adept at helping parties to devise and communicate innovative solutions

Attaining the technical skills

Lawyers who are trained in mediation skills and techniques are not only equipped to represent clients in mediation; they can also act as mediators themselves.

Lawyers are particularly well suited to using evaluative mediation techniques where they can draw on their expertise and experience to advise parties as to the strengths and weaknesses of their positions. This is something that lawyers do naturally, and with the correct training, they make very effective evaluative mediators.

Dr John Fletcher

Mediation training delivers a range of transferable skills, which can enhance a lawyer’s portfolio of service offerings. For example, mediation training improves communications skills and one’s ability to manage difficult conversations.

To aid lawyers in acquiring the required mediation skills, RICS has developed its Accredited Evaluative Mediation Training Programme, suitable for those interested in mediating all types of commercial and complex disputes across the built environment.  The programme is pragmatic and practical, with accredited RICS mediators delivering knowledge on how to adapt legal skills to work as a mediator appropriately and effectively.

As the cost and implications of disputes increase, mediation is fast becoming one of the most popular methods of ADR in the Middle East, making mediators, who have expert knowledge, grasp of essential skills and work to reduce the number of issues, become more attractive to clients.