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In Place of Strife

The Mediation Chambers

Anyone for plenary?

Mediators often hear the opinion that the plenary session is a waste of time. Each party knows its case, there is no point in verbally repeating the position statements and “warm words” are unnecessary. In other words, it’s private rooms and shuttle diplomacy - “let’s get on with the negotiation”. Really?

I am a strong advocate of plenary sessions. I start from two basic propositions:

Firstly, the “warm words” of good faith and intention to engage are important: the parties have taken the trouble to come together under one roof to try to settle their differences, and it is only right and proper - as part of a principled negotiation -  that they should acknowledge each other’s presence and engagement.

Secondly, communication is the essence of dispute resolution. Non-communication leads to depersonalisation: the opponent becomes “the enemy” - a caricature. It’s not easy to see someone as anything less than human when you are speaking with them around a table. It’s good to talk. 


Mediator: Alistair Pye FCIArb

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