Have you ever wondered how different mediators would approach the same dispute? Just as how every person is unique, similarly, no two mediators mediate the same. So while each mediator will have their own methods and styles in helping parties resolve conflicts, SHAW mediators also have guidelines that ensure for consistent and high quality service across all mediation sessions. This set of systemised procedures is known as the SHAW Mediator Manual. With this, any party can be confident going into mediation sessions knowing that they are in the hands of a capable and competent mediator.

In the second of our interview series, we are delighted to have Simon Lane, accredited mediator, to share his experiences with mediation processes and also his thoughts on the SHAW Mediator Manual. Simon’s opinions and insightsas an authority in the field of mediation are important in helping us understand how the mediator manual value adds to the mediation process.

Q: What has been your experience with mediation, and what has changed over the last decade?

A: I was trained as a mediator in 1991 when it was barely understood by the profession or the judiciary. It took a long time to be embraced by practitioners and clients but since 2000, it has become increasingly recognised as an alternative way to resolve disputes. I believe that over the last decade most practitioners have learnt to understand the importance to their clients of trying to mediate an issue.

It is my experience that these days very few civil matters go to trial without an attempt having first been made to find a mediated solution. In my experience, most parties who try mediation genuinely want to find a solution and even where a matter is not resolved in that way, there appears to be a greater awareness of the benefits that can flow from mediating. In particular, parties now realise that they can learn a lot about the strengths and weaknesses of theirs and their opponent’s cases and the process of mediation helps both sides to better understand the major issues in contention.

Q: What process do you follow when you mediate?

A: I believe the most important qualities in a mediator are 1) a willingness to genuinely listen to each party so as to understand what is underpinning the dispute, 2) a capacity to be flexible in one’s approach, 3) recognising that every individual is different and that every factual and legal dispute has its own complexities and 4) a determination to persist with one’s efforts to help the parties see the benefit of finding a solution that each of them can live with.

Q: What did you think of the SHAW mediator manual?

A: The contents of the mediator manual are sound so there could be no possibility of anyone reading it and not understanding what the mediator’s role and responsibilities are.

Q: Why do you think having such a mediator manual is important?

A: Having such a manual ensures forboth consistency and clarity in the way that mediations are organised and conductedby SHAW Mediation. The consequence is that one can confidently recommend SHAW Mediation to clients and practitioners knowing that high standards are expected and applied.

Q: How do you think the process of dispute resolution will change in the next 5 years?

A: I think modern litigators will increasingly learn the importance of true and early identification of what is in a client’s best interests. Practitioners will also increasingly realise that it is only in the rarest of circumstances will litigation help achieve a client’s best long term interests, given that it is toachieve certainty and finality through quick and inexpensive ways.

Having said that, modern litigators must be alert to the dangers of settling too easily. A client’s best interest is usually achieved by having a line in the sand, up to which settlement at mediation is the best result. Remember that clients too are entitled to receive robust and confident advice and that will mean, from time to time, that matters can’t settle. In those cases, practitioners must then be able to quickly and effectively change into litigation mode and fight hard for their clients.

We are very grateful to Simon for sharing with us his various experiences in mediation and for the positive feedback on the SHAW Mediator Manual. His opinions are encouraging and not only serve as a great endorsement to our SHAW processes but also to the high quality of service provided by our mediators. We truly value the opinions and insights Simon has generously shared and would like to thank him for his time.

Simon Lane is an accredited mediator whose experiences in mediation include conducting approximately 700 private mediation sessions across a range of broad topics such as aviation and shareholding disputes. He is currently part of a panel of mediators to whom judges of the Supreme Court and District Court refer matters for mediation. Simon had successfully completed the LEADR mediation course in 1992 and was a Barrister at the Independent Bar for 14 years prior to becoming a mediator in 2003.