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Resolving Your Dispute by Mediation

Authors: Phillippa Rowe and Brian Wales Smith
Publisher: The Academy of Experts

As a recently qualified mediator and having been assessed by this book's author during that qualification process, I was delighted to be asked to review the latest edition of this publication. This 51 page book, plus extensive appendices, is an essential first read for a number of people discussed below.

The title, 'Resolving your dispute by mediation', suggests that it is aimed at those involved in disputes and who are considering mediation as a possible route to solve the problem. Indeed, that was the frame of mind I put myself in before reading the book for the first time.

Although the book contains 'Frequently asked questions' (FAQs) the chapters are also structured in a FAQ manner. For example, Chapter 2 asks how mediation works and why it is successful. Subsequent chapters describe the mediator, the actual mediation process and how to go about starting that process. At all times the language of the book is suitable for readers of all backgrounds.

As many experts and mediators will be aware, parties in a dispute will come from varying backgrounds some may have never been involved in a dispute before (and will probably not want another!), whilst others may be at home in the litigationlADR process. This publication would certainly benefit those who are new to litigation and mediation and it also reminded me, as a newly qualified mediator, of some of the vital aspects of the mediation process.

All aspects of the subject are covered in detail and the text gives reassurance as to the process from start to finish, appointing a mediator and dealing with him/her whether in open sessions or in a caucus. The FAQ chapter addresses the negative questions that may be asked by sceptics of mediation. For example, the author deals with questions as to whether mediator is untried; should 'conventional' legal methods be adopted; whether mediators are professional and the subject (which amused me) as to whether a party would be 'smooth talked' by a mediator. The answers to the FAQs are concise and even handed and should allay most fears about the mediation process.

The book also gives advice on how to prepare for the mediation. Although those involved in the litigation/ADR process will see this as a lot of common sense, the chapter gives excellent advice which those new to the processs will find extremely useful and a good reminder for those of us who work in the field on a daily basis.

Advice such as distinguishing between needs and wants; assigning priorities to those needs; assessing strengths and weaknesses; differing perspectives and the use of lateral thinking will help not only the party considering mediation, but the mediator as well. By implanting this advice prior to the mediation, the mediator may well find that his job is made that little bit easier.

The Appendices to the book contain a lot of information along with the pre-mediation checklists and a Mediation Appointment Form which can be photocopied and used by parties who are wishing to appoint a mediator. Coupled with the excellent guided tour of mediation by Phillippa Rowe, the Appendices and text form a self-contained handbook which should prove extremely useful for a layman to gain confidence in mediation and assist a party to feel in control.

I have recommended to a number of people that they should consider mediation. Many have queried this suggestion and have asked the sort of questions that are dealt with admirably in this publication. It would have been extremely useful to have been able to lend/give this book to my clients so that they could digest the contents and quickly become aware of the merits of the process.

It would seem sensible that those involved in the litigationlADR process, whether solicitors, barristers, experts, or other professionals, should have copies of this title available for clients in an effort to enhance the standing of ADR, in particular, mediation. I recommend that all of those involved in mediation should take time to read this book and that they should consider adding it to their professional library.

The Academy of Experts, The Expert & Dispute Resolver
Reviewed by Adam Smith QDR MAE
Autumn 2004

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