GOOD MORNING FROM LONDON
16 OCTOBER 2023 DISPUTE RESOLUTION
Followers of this column will be interested to learn that the topic – Dispute Resolution – Arbitration and Mediation – is being revived. As before, a narrative is created that brings aspects of Dispute Resolution into play. The First Episode is about differences that have arisen between two sets of neighbours – the Kendalls and the Jacksons. China Posts will continue uninterrupted.
Dora Kendall is aged 86 and her husband of 55 years, Albert, is 88. They have lived contentedly in a leafy middle class estate in Gillingham for almost 40 years. They are well known in the community and until recently were members of the local book club. Albert was a jeweller by trade and Dora had taught English at a local school and had come to know parents and children at parents’ evening over the years. They have two children albeit a little late in the marriage. Their son lives locally with his wife and their son aged twelve. Their daughter lives in Durham with twin daughters aged seventeen.
Problems have arisen recently with the arrival of new neighbours. The Kendalls live at the end of the road and have neighbours only on one side. The previous neighbours had lived next door comfortably and pleasantly for twenty five years but the husband had died recently and the widowed wife had joined her daughter in Bournemouth.
New neighbours – the Jacksons (husband, wife and two sons) – had arrived but problems had arisen from day one. The Jackson’s casual car parking encroached upon the Kendall’s carefully maintained front lawn. Car doors were slammed shut rather than closed. The older son played jazz on a high volume and, although the houses were not semi-detached, conversations carried from one house to the next.
Word had reached the resident’s association that all was not well and there were concerns for the health of the aging Kendalls. Your name appears on the list of neighbourhood mediators – you are approached and invited to mediate the dispute. You have no conflict of interest and readily agree to your appointment. You are at an early stage of your mediation career and approach the mediation more with trepidation than confidence.
Am I up to it? Will I be confident or apprehensive? How will I come over to the two couples? How do I handle the “getting to know” process. At this point you give yourself some home truths. You have been appointed because experienced local residents have confidence in you. You did well in training and your class tutor readily provided a letter of recommendation. You are aware that you do have skills but you also have “first night nerves”.
You meet with the Kendalls and quickly appreciate that such was the closeness of their friendship with the previous neighbours that any incoming neighbours would necessitate a change on the part of the Kendalls. And, as you were regularly informed by your trainer mediator, change does not come easily. People, especially elderly people, do tend to be conservative (in a non-political sense). Mr Kendall takes pride in his front lawn and tyre marks from the Jackson’s car are immediately apparent and, whilst the Kendalls enjoy Classic FM, neither Dora nor Albert are partial to Jazz FM especially when played at a high volume.
You know you have your work cut out to bring about a more neighbourly relationship but you set about the challenge with vigour and excitement and a picture of the Kendall family begins to emerge.. Something interests you – you become aware of the grandson’s presence – a school uniform, football boots and a playstation. The boy often stays overnight and it emerges that Mrs Kendall and her grandson have bonded – she taught English when she was a teacher and she has helped the boy to enjoy books – especially when listening to grandma reading adventure novels before “lights out”.
EPISODE 2 – MEETING THE JACKSONS