“I hold to the idea that civility, understood as the willingness to engage in public discourse, is the first virtue of citizens.” Mark Kingwell, The World We Want: Restoring Citizenship in a Fractured Age, [Rowman & Littlefield, 2000] A recent email from a US-based group that specialises in facilitating public dialogues in difficult cases noted…

Mediation can be seen as a tool that facilitates better decision-making, particularly in disputes, but not only. The simple tools are focusing on interests, looking for common ground and mutual understanding, creating options that might satisfy many interests, and then weighing up those options to reach a decision. These tools are very simple in theory,…

In one of my recent cases, the question of impartiality appeared in quite an irregular way. It happened when I entered the mediation room where both parties were seated together with their lawyers. They were drinking coffee and making small talk. To my surprise, one of the lawyers looked quite familiar. Just for a moment,…

Bloomberg (not my usual reading fodder, I confess) carried an interesting piece a couple of months ago, entitled “Meet the Real Force Behind the Brexit Talks”. Yes, it was about Brexit (yawn) but it was about an unseen side of the negotiations. Opening with the line “In every negotiation the most important work is done…

In recent years, Vietnam has boosted its legal framework for commercial mediation. The story began with the promulgation of the new Civil Procedure Code 2015 whose Chapter 33 serves as the legal basis for the recognition of out-of-court mediated settlement agreements. Then, the Government issued Decree no. 22/2017/ND-CP on Commercial Mediation (“Decree 22”) detailing and…

Here in Singapore, along with the rest of the world, we await the Trump-Kim Summit scheduled for Tuesday 12 June. What can we expect? While we may have learned to expect the unexpected from these two leaders, Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un, recent media reports have highlighted one apparently predictable feature of Trump’s negotiation approach….

One way of describing mediation is as a process that seeks to convert what is apparently a zero or negative sum game into a positive-sum game. This is to use the language of game theory, which analyses strategies that rational players take to secure the best outcomes in interactive, interdependent ‘games’; where the outcome for…

You can get much farther with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone. Al Capone This popular quote attributed to the famous US mobster announce the use of force and other dirty tricks in negotiation. I do not especially like it. I would relativise it by the following…

In 1933 Alfred Korzybski wrote: “A map is not the territory it represents, but, if correct, it has a similar structure to the territory, which accounts for its usefulness.” More recently (2006), James Robertson wrote (to reference him once again, this time from ‘The Testament of Gideon Mack’): “We trust in maps because when we…