Michael Leathes of the International Mediation Institute in The Hague is here in New Zealand.
He's on holiday but the Wellington mediation mafia have convinced him that it would be in the interests of the tyres on his rental if he allowed us to put on a breakfast for him as he passes through our fair city next Monday.
The Institute was created last year by three leading non-profit dispute resolution bodies: the Netherlands Mediation Institute, Singapore Mediation Centre and the American Arbitration Association.
I have posted on the IMI before and I suspect, love or hate what they are doing - you are going to hear a lot more about IMI in the next few years.
IMI's drive for certification is generating some heat in the mediation world because, for the first time, an initiative to set global competency standards for mediators is gaining real traction. Make no mistake, future mediation consumers, especially corporates, will use the IMI standard to determine mediator competency and be pivotal in any decision to hire.
And it's this that is proving to be controversial.
Some, like leading UK mediator Tony Willis - who I respect enormously (do you know that Tony was involved in acting 'for the money' in the 1979 Iran hostage drama that lasted 444 days and it was this that set him on a mediation path) - say the IMI proposals are clunky, bureaucratic and costly and they are of the one-size-fits-all variety, making no effort to reflect different jurisdictions. Tony has labelled aspects of the venture, ‘impossibly cumbersome’ and concluded ‘it will be damaging to the profession.’
Perhaps one of the most serious charges against the scheme is that these are not standards being set by mediators - but by providers such as the AAA and they will eventually create a barrier to entry for those yet to enter our field and establish themselves. This troubles me.
After a period of consultation last year draft standards have been developed and IMI is now looking for your comments here.
An Independent Standards Commission comprising '30 international thought leaders in the dispute resolution field' has now been convened to finalize the standards after reviewing all comments.
I hope to bring you some video or audio of Michael Leathes' presentation.