Mediation – A ‘Dishonest Kind Of Process’

In a surprise announcement this week, Jim Farmer QC – one of this country’s top trial lawyers – declared, via the latest edition of The National Business Review, that while he had not attended many mediations, its emphasis on reaching a settlement above all else struck him as ‘a dishonest kind of process’.

He went on to say;

“At one mediation I attended the mediator, who was the most eminent mediator in Australasia, put a 50c coin on the table and said to the parties, “this coin is like litigation, it could fall on either side.”

That absolutely terrified the clients. This man says the chances are 50/50, and he doesn’t even know what the case is about yet. I’m uneasy with the idea that the settlement was always the best idea”

Farmer’s comments appear to follow February’s Civil Litigation in Crisis – What Crisis? sponsored by the NZ Bar Council and featuring Sir Gavin Lightman, retired UK High Court Judge – who has made some provocative comments on the adversarial system and whether it is suited to deliver justice in a timely and inexpensive way.

What makes this sort of comment especially disappointing is the fact that Jim Farmer is the President of the NZ Bar Council, the body that represents me and most other barristers in New Zealand, many of whom spend more time in mediation than the courtroom these days – perhaps that’s his complaint?

                        author

Geoff Sharp

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… MORE >

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