About Colin

I learned the value of mediation through my experience with ACAS officers when I was a trade union officer between 1981 and 1996. Then, until the end of March this year, I was a barrister specialising in employment and discrimination law representing employees and employers. Having to approach problems from both sides helped me to be a better barrister.

Both sides now
I qualified as a mediator with CEDR in 2000 and now devote my time solely conflict resolution through my mediation practice. I work in a wide range of commercial disputes, probate, landlord and tenant, neighbour disputes and workplace and HR disputes, . Litigation may be contemplated or even already underway but mediation can help at any stage. 



In negotiations the parties play their cards close to their chests. Everything you say to a mediator will be treated in complete confidence, thus building trust with you and, separately, the other parties. This encourages openness and allows the mediator insight into the underlying cause of the dispute.

It’s as if the parties are in a maze unable to see where the other party is, each searching for the way out. As mediator, I will have a higher vantage point and can help the parties decide which way to turn next. Unknown to the parties, I will be able to see whether they are moving towards each other. This maximises the chance of them finding a solution acceptable to both.

No. In advance of the mediation the parties will be asked to sign an agreement to treat everything said as confidential. This is a vital part of the process. It protects you as well as the other party. If a party fears that what they say in the mediation may later be used against them, they are much less likely to be open.

Complete confidentiality
I will not disclose anything said to me in a private session to the other party nor will I disclose anything said during the process to anyone else. As mediator I cannot be called as a witness in any subsequent litigation nor will I disclose any notes made during the process.

Not if you do not wish to. A face-to-face mediation usually stands a better chance of success but you must feel comfortable. Mediation can take place online via applications such as Zoom or Teams or even by telephone.

No, attendance is voluntary and you are free to leave at any stage. I consider all aspects of the dispute and will do my best to ensure that the parties are on a level playing field. This may include considerations such as the location, the size and shape of the room, the position of chairs and the use of short breaks or even separate rooms. I may try to persuade you to stay and continue the process but it is entirely your decision.

Not usually. In a legal dispute each party has their own expert adviser. It is not my job to decide the outcome or make a judgement about who is right or wrong. I may dig down into the dispute to identify underlying causes but my expertise is listening and encouraging the parties to explore different approaches to the problem so that they can find their own solution.

I will ensure that each party has the chance to say whatever they wish in support of their case without being interrupted. A mediation is often the first time the parties have listened to each other rather than just restating their own case. Only if each is heard and is treated with respect will there be a realistic chance of a successful outcome.

In a mediation, nothing is agreed until everything is agreed so any concession is conditional on everything else being agreed before a binding agreement is concluded.

I am regularly asked if I have expertise in the area of law in which the dispute has arisen. In the great majority of cases I do not need specialist expertise – the parties have their own experts and I do not make decisions. My personal skills lie in building trust and encouraging parties to listen to each other. That is often the key to moving towards an agreement.

Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. Once an issue is agreed it can be ‘parked’ while other matters are addressed. The parties are, of course, at liberty to resolve some issues but not others if they wish so that the issues in subsequent litigation are narrowed. It may be that partial resolution helps the parties to agree outstanding matters in the period after the mediation whether or not there is further involvement from the mediator.

Because the process is voluntary any party is free to withdraw from the Mediation at any stage. It is likely that I will try to persuade that party to remain unless I conclude that further mediation is unlikely to result in an agreement or further progress towards an agreement. 

It is a term of the Mediation agreement that the parties will attempt ‘in good faith’ to reach an agreement and the mediator will set out the ground rules at the outset of the mediation. Those ground rules require the mediator to try to ensure that the parties are on an equal footing and each has the opportunity to say what they wish to say with being interrupted. If those ground rules are not adhered to the mediator may terminate the mediation.

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