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International and Comparative Mediation: Legal Perspectives (Book Review)

by Michael Leathes
September 2010 Michael Leathes
International and Comparative Mediation: Legal Perspectives

By Nadja Alexander

What marks this book out as exceptional, valuable, inspiring and even myth-busting is its contemporary focus on the legal and regulatory issues surrounding the practice of mediation - in civil and common law jurisdictions and also at a transnational level - and the engaging way it is written and presented.

Although mediation is often simplistically considered as a private, extra-judicial process, with not a lot of legal implications, Prof Alexander has pulled together a neatly sectioned commentary on the practical legal issues that mediation professionals and party representatives need to consider. Because the book is written by a practitioner/educator with extensive experience internationally, the pages are full of comparisons between countries and practices. Chapters include the relationship between law, regulation and mediation; mediator selection and referral to mediation; mediation clauses and agreements to mediate; the legal aspects of how mediators and parties conduct themselves; confidentiality; and various important post-mediation matters such as the enforceability of settlements. Two entire chapters are devoted to the UNCITRAL Model Law, including an insightful interview with Jernej Sekolec, the former Secretary of UNCITRAL. Appendix C contains a clever and succinct analysis of the adoption of the UNCITRAL Model Law by other countries on an article-by-article basis. The brevity of the comparative table belies the depth of information contained in these pages.

Finally, Appendix B is worthy of close examination by all practitioners selecting appropriate mediation rules for international dispute resolution clauses. Institutional rules from around the world are not merely reproduced here; they are compared according to topics such as confidentiality, admissibility of mediation evidence, enforceability of mediated outcome and so on.

Prof Alexander has a relaxed, short sentence style of presenting information and ideas, making the book equally relevant to lawyers and non-lawyers, and has not withheld her own thoughts on how things could be improved. This is a really important contribution to the development of mediation throughout the world.


Michael Leathes is a co-founder and formerly a director of the International Mediation Institute (IMI). He spent much of his career as an in-house counsel for a number of international corporations in a variety of roles, including General Counsel of Pfizer International (1984-87), General Counsel of International Distillers & Vintners Limited (1992-97) and Head of Intellectual Property of BAT (1997-2006). He has spent much of that in-house career managing disputes around the world. Michael is the author of a book on negotiation, to be published by Wolters Kluwer in January 2017.

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