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Mediators have no interest in justice and fairness; Charlie Irvine bites back!

by Geoff Sharp
February 2009

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

Geoff Sharp

Well, I'm not sure of the politics behind this exchange.

But read Charlie Irvine's response to senior academic and Honorary Queen’s Counsel Dame Hazel Genn's lecture in December 2008 ADR and Civil Justice: What’s justice got to do with it?

Hazel (can I call you Hazel?) suggests that mediation ‘is not about just settlement’ but rather ‘it is just about settlement' and helpfully comments that ’perhaps everything can be mediated and the courts can all become pubs and restaurants'. (Ed: warm beer and jellied eel please)

Charlie takes up the story; "In December 2008 I attended the Hamlyn Lecture, delivered in Edinburgh by Dame Hazel Genn. Her topic was Civil Justice and ADR, but she quickly made it clear that her main interest, or target, was mediation. I readied myself for a verbal assault, and got one, but in more trenchant terms than I had anticipated.

While there was nothing new in Dame Hazel’s litany of mediation’s failings, I was startled and a bit stung by the rhetorical flourish with which it was uttered. What’s worse, having worked myself up to overcome the intimidating ambience of Edinburgh’s Old College(the very heart of the Scottish legal establishment) by speaking up for poor little mediation, we were told there would be no questions, just a wee drink.

Well, having had the drink, and some time to reflect, I still want to come back at her. Normally one listens to senior academics respectfully, ascribing a degree of dispassionate objectivity to their pronouncements. But when Dame Hazel turned her withering prose on mediators I was riled. It was particularly galling to hear her... [read more]


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