Last weekend I was invited to Johannesburg to give the key note speech at the annual mediators conference of Tokiso Dispute Settlement, which is the biggest private dispute resolution organisation in South Africa.It has specialized for many years in labour mediiaon and arbitration and is now branching out into commercial mediaiotn, with CEDR having traned all thier commercial panellists.
After giving my speech on 'The reasons countries are turning to mediation' (see CEDR website for article summarising this speech), I was able to sit back and enjoy the conference as a participant.
What struck me from listening to pre-dominantly labour mediators, was both the similarity in the processes we all adopt as mediators as well as the nuances of the application of the process and the skills between different mediation 'disciplines'. Of particular interest to me was the constant battle these mediators have to establish and maintain their neutrality in the face of often quite hostile parties who challenge this neutrality often.
Other dilemmas that were explored were, denial of authority to relay information to the other side after it was given, mediator accused of misrepresentation and the age-old favorite of having a cross-over of offers.
It was a great opportunity to sit back and learn from mediator s who have been practicing in their specialized field for many years!!!