Lawyer Monthly - August 2022

49 AUG 2022 | WWW.LAWYER-MONTHLY.COM EXPERT INSIGHT in the process usually has a successful mediation. Parties want to be heard and they want encouragement to continue. My favourite technique is to remind the parties to keep the future in sight – a bright future with the restoration, maintenance and retention of the relationship, in whatever form that may come. We need to speak to the BATNA and the WATNA during the course of the mediation process; we need to know that we can change things. What are your thoughts on virtual mediation? Do you believe it can ever be as effective as in-person mediation? Virtual mediations are difficult, but I love them. There is hardly ever the problem of bad conduct and mean-spirited language. In a virtual mediation, we have to work hard to ensure that we are paying attention to every detail. It is difficult to ensure the maintenance of eye contact and to properly gauge the emotional effect, if any, which certain aspects of the dispute might have on the disputants. It is also difficult in virtual mediations to ask the parties to speak directly to each other, and for the emotions to be appropriately and perfectly felt. The body language is less clear and less visible in a virtual setting. Some of the subtle nuances of language are not communicated in virtual sessions, no matter how much reframing or reality checking a mediator does. Yet, in virtual mediation sessions, all present must be fully engaged at all times. We have to be clear in our questioning; we have to be clear when we seek deliverables; we have to prompt people and remind ourselves to be precise. Virtual mediations are always physically safe and there is less opportunity for theatrics. How else is technology impacting mediation? Do you think these changes are for the better or for the worse? Technology enables parties to meet with the mediator at non-conventional times that are convenient to everybody. The ability to have a caucus virtually saves time and expense; there is no need for appropriate spaces to be reserved. There is no need for refreshments to be provided. Technology requires parties to rely on the trustworthiness of the disputants. The downside is that when you expect one person in the room, sometimes others are present who ought not be; confidentiality can then be compromised. Likewise, the issue of good faith. Technology makes us deepen and strengthen our substantive skills. We have to make an opportunity out of the need to be mobile, using the The value of relationship building and relationship maintenance cannot be over-emphasised.

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