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In Place of Strife

The Mediation Chambers

Who are all those people and why are they here?

Mark Jackson-Stops, Head of Chambers, writes:

Quentin Smith is a full-time mediator, formerly a litigation lawyer with Addleshaw Goddard in Manchester. He has a busy practice specialising in commercial litigation, personal injury (particularly cases of utmost severity) and has extensive experience of professional negligence disputes. This month's tip comes from him:

"Who are all those people and why are they here?

"I am often asked about the attendance of Counsel, experts, family members, etc., at mediations as though there might be a standard or preferred approach. Successful teams are invariably cohesive, controlled and concise. Everyone has significance both as a presence and as a potential contributor. Therefore, crowding your room with probable passengers/observers is likely to slow the process and cause distraction – everyone will want to have-their-say. It can become difficult to focus debate and make decisions. I have seen both great and awful performances from solicitors, barristers, experts, parties’ colleagues and all sorts of "advisors". Their professional status and background may have little relevance – it really is a question of whether or not they can work within the environment of a mediation. Will those attending with you bring the necessary authority to deal, technical savviness and commercial pragmatism to make a difference? If not, then they could, surely, be doing something useful elsewhere?"

Mediator: Quentin Smith

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