The First Issue is the feelings that the female Mediator has for Juliet, the wife in the matrimonial mediation. Today in 2022 the norms of personal relationships are undergoing change – single sex marriage is a fact of life + male/male and female/female relationships are increasing in number. This is a factor in Parliament, in Sport, in the workplace so why not in dispute resolution? This Mediation narrative could just as easily have been a relationship between the Husband + a male Mediator. It is life. It happens + we dispute resolvers should adjust to the growing phenomenon as + when it arises.
It is part of the bias issue + part of our training. At one level bias appears quite trivial – some people do not like colourful style of dress, or louder than usual voices. But bias can be of a more serious dimension – some male dispute resolvers merely “tolerate” women dispute resolvers when they should work alongside them wholeheartedly + without reservation. A person’s sex or sexual preference should never become an issue.
The second issue is the need for the Mediator to withdraw from the mediation. Once her feelings for Juliet become a fact, the Mediator cannot perform the role of an independent between the husband + wife. In truth this is quite obvious. It is nothing to do with sex – only impartiality. A Mediator cannot maintain an undisclosed relationship with either the Husband or the Wife – whether it be financial, social or personal.
How to withdraw? What does she have to say and what can she keep back? She is not under an obligation to reveal the fact of her feelings towards Juliet. That is a private matter between the Mediator and Juliet only – and not for the Husband. All he has to know is that work pressures have intervened that make it difficult for you, the Mediator, to give the necessary time to the Mediation. It would be right in the circumstances for the Mediator in her letter of withdrawal to be sent to the parties’ solicitors to refund any fee that might have been paid.
I WELCOME VIEWS AND OPINIONS ON THIS STORY LINE AS ON ALL STORY LINES – MEDIATION OR ARBITRATION.