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Fee Discounts

by Geoff Sharp

From the blog mediator blah...blah...

Geoff Sharp

As regular visitors to this blog will know I have, especially in the early days of writing, made a habit of posting on the nuts and bolts of mediation practice.

It has always seemed a valuable space to fill.

Like most mediators my standard mediation agreement, which I provide to parties to sign prior to the mediation, contains a cost sharing provision -- where the parties each pay half of my fees. No problem so far.

Today I received an e-mail from a lawyer in a recent mediation asking me to reconsider the half share of my fee that I had invoiced his client soon after the mediation for a number of reasons - all adding up to his client having fallen on hard times.

"Hi Geoff,

Thanks for your invoice. Great work on getting us all signed up... this is a bit awkward but I need to talk to you about your fee...."

To be honest I've never been that focused on the level of my fees -- on the basis that I believe in the long view in a small legal community like NZ - repeat lawyers need to know they can talk to me around fees in deserving cases.

ut what to do about today's request - they agreed to both share costs - can I now simply reduce one party's share?

I think not.

Well then, reduce both shares? Well heck no! - given the other side is a well heeled corporate and has already paid.

What then?

I think the only transparent way of doing this is to go to the other side and advise of the request and see if they have a problem - if they do then I would decline the request.

Any other takes on this?


Geoff Sharp is a Commercial Mediator from Wellington, New Zealand. Geoff works in the Asia Pacific region, including New Zealand, Malaysia, Thailand and Pacific Islands. He is a mediator resolving business problems. He is a fellow of the International Academy of Mediators and mediates complex and hotly debated litigation covering a wide range of subject matter from insurance disputes to historic sexual abuse claims.

Geoff is author of the award winning blog mediator blah...blah... a mediation blog experiment in reflective practice and the Mediation vBlog Project, a kind of mediation genome project by video blog.

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Additional articles by Geoff Sharp