Comments: The Case for Forgiveness in Legal Disputes

Go to article

Louise  Lerche-Gredal, Copenhagen     03/24/14
The dilemma of apologies in legal disputes
I, completely agree. The power of a sincere apology can make a world of difference in any dispute. However, in legal disputes it can be quite complex. I remember a case I had as a litigation lawyer. I representet the Insurance company who would not accept liability in case where an elderly lady had fallen outside her home due to icey weather. In the negotiation during the preparation of the case, it became more and more clear, that all she really wanted was an apology or acknowledtement of har pain and suffering. Since her lawyer knew that her client had a bad case, she came to me and asked me whether I could convince my client to give her an apololgy. The lawyer felt that this was the only way her client would leave the case even if she was told that she would most likely loose in court. My client was very reluctant, to put it mildly. "How can we give her an apology, without accepting liability?" they asked. This was a very ligitimate question in a legal context, where apologies means taking the blame = legal responsibility = pay up! This understanding of giving an apology is both understandable but also very unfortunate since it may drive people to file lawsuits which could have been solved with an apology. Outside the legal context, we can give an apology without thinking of the legal consequenes. "Sorry, I'm late" "Sorry, I interrupted you" "Sorry, but I forgot your birtday". But in the legal context, where an apology could be of vital importance, apologies are complicated and therefore quite rare. In my case, we managed to write an apology, without taking legal responsibilty. She basicly needed the insurance company to acknowledge that her pain and suffering were real and naturally affected her a lot, even if the insurrance company was not legally to blame.

NAN WALLER , Denver CO   03/12/14

Steffi Berkowitz, Berkeley Ca     03/05/14
Thank you Eileen for sharing this forgiveness shift perspective with valued wisdom and insight. Connecting healing with rewriting one's story through the eyes of forgiveness is empowering and a gift that can keep on giving! Part 1 delivered! Creating space to welcome Part 2!

uma  , Chennai ta   03/04/14
TRUE, to forgive is to acknowledge and accept and that means also letting it go. this is the crux of hindu philosophy but very hard to achieve. As medaitors, if we are able to help disputants to go near that phase, i think that is good enough. Kudos, waiting for the 2nd part.

Lorraine  Segal, Santa Rosa CA     03/04/14
Great article
Wonderful article about forgiveness, Eileen! I'm looking forward to part 2.