The Go-Between: resolving disputes in uncertain times
In the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic “It is likely that increased, and more creative, use of mediation will be one of the differences.” says David Owen QC. The experienced mediator and arbitrator takes a look at the crucial role mediation will play in effectively solving civil and commercial disputes after the crisis.
In this fifth edition of Arbitration Classics, Angharad Parry interviews seasoned mediator and arbitrator, David Owen QC, to discuss current advantages and challenges with mediation for dispute resolution.
Q: The disruptive event of our times is, of course, the COVID-19 pandemic. Do you predict that the pandemic crisis will see a large upswing in the use of mediation to resolve disputes?
A: The key point at the moment is that parties need their commercial disputes resolved as effectively as possible to help them get through the crisis. Some disputes will be resolved by direct negotiation. Some will be pursued through arbitration or litigation (with an increased emphasis on virtual hearings).
But mediation is likely to have a crucial role in the months and years ahead.
There will be many cases where direct negotiations fail, or where parties are unable to spend time and money battling through to a judgment or an award, and where mediation is an obvious route to take in order to get a dispute resolved reasonably rapidly. Against the background of the pandemic, the flexibility of mediation and its relative speed should make it a highly attractive option.
L.P. Hartley’s novel “The Go Between”, which provided the title for this interview, has the wonderful opening line: “The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there”. We already know that much will be different following the pandemic. It is likely that increased, and more creative, use of mediation will be one of those differences.
(Incidentally, for those looking for lockdown reading matter, “The Go Between” is highly recommended. In dealing with characters trying to make sense of the past, and with their imperfect understanding of events unfolding around them, it would be a thought-provoking read for anyone dealing with disputes.)