MEDIATION AND CLASS – EPISODE 2

Written by Graham Perry

Graham Perry M.A. Cantab FCIArb Experienced Arbitration Lawyer | China & Chinese Business Affairs | Public Speaker/Lecturer

16 August 2021

MEDIATION #158

I struck a chord in Episode 1 when I suggested that middle-class mediators from leafy London suburbs may not be suitable for appointments to mediate family disputes in high rise council accommodation. To be an effective mediator you need to have experienced the lifestyle norms of the people who have asked you to be their mediator. Council Flat tenants will have heard that you are good at your job but you have no experience of lifestyle issues in New Cross.
 
It triggered a reaction – For and Against. Those “For” considered it quite reasonable for me to ask mediators experienced in neighbour garden fence confrontations + contested wills if they possessed the breadth of experience + understanding to become involved with tense family issues in New Cross caused by Covid lockdown, loss of job, closure of schools + an absence of local parks + playgrounds.
 
The ”Against” Camp said that I underestimated the skill + sensitivity of committed Mediators who were capable of reaching across the class divide + showing understanding of people whose lifestyles may be quite different from their own. As one said, “Mediators are Mediators. They are taught to understand all situations”.
 
But there is a difference between “Understanding a Problem” + Experiencing a Problem”. To be specific – isn’t the Best Mediator of Council Flat Confrontations the 60+-year-old mother of three who has lived her life on the Estate, knows about late-night fisticuffs, + has undergone mediation training. Or, looking at the situation in reverse, would she have the lifestyle experience to travel from New Cross to Aylesbury to mediate inheritance arguments?

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