Index of Content

Mediation: A Practical Guide

Author: Allan Stitt
Publisher : Cavendish Publishing

Having been asked to review what appeared to me at first glance as Mediation: A practical guide, I was sceptical about its possible benefit to Academy members. However, all became clear once my spectacles were put to use and even more clear as I worked my way through it.

Mediation: A practical guide fills the void in guidance literature for non-specific mediation. Shelves are stocked with manuals for the resolution of particular disputes in specific areas, but here Stitt provides a type of heuristic tool for multiple scenarios in many spheres. It is indeed a very practical guide, containing 'Tips for mediators' in highlighted boxes at the end of each section. The language used is clear and. concise, and predominantly free from verbiage. Within the text the author intends to clarify his ideas, rather than impress and baille his reader, making it accessible and informative, even for those with only a passing interest or concern with mediation.

The author also concentrates on the lawyer's role in mediation, extending his targeted readership. Perhaps most enlightening, and what takes it away from being a step-by-step guide, is the anecdotal sections relating to the author's multitude of experience in the mediation setting. By putting his teaching into context, Stitt enables his reader to better understand his explanation and gain an insight into a number of potential scenarios as they embark on their own mediations. These anecdotes also help to prepare the new mediator for the unexpected.

On the negative I did find the structure frustrating. Although the main text flows rather well, the boxes 'It happened at mediation', 'Tips for lawyers', and 'Tips for mediators' interrupt its lucidity. For example, there are two pages in particular that contain all of the above plus 'Role reversal' and then 'Interests on a flipchart'. These become about as irritating as 'pop-up' advertisements on your computer or television. I chose to read chronologically and became bewildered - the alternative I found difficult even to contemplate.

Reading this guide reminded me of an advanced driving manual I once studied in a similar format. Whilst there was to be no doubting the driving skill of the author, I became confused as to where I was meant to begin and gave up! This is a shame because the book is full of experience and that is exactly what a mediator needs.

Overall, I found the content good, although none of us will agree with every word (no change there then!). However, its most lasting impression is made by the experiences it reminds us of and the way in which it helps us to anticipate those that are yet to come. So am I going to be a better mediator for having read this book? Yes. Did I find it easy going? No. But one could say the same about mediation, since here too, you often find yourself having to cope with any number of things going on at once!

The Academy of Experts, The Expert & Dispute Resolver
Reviewed by Robert jenkins QDR
Autumn 2004

Back to top