Stakeholder - The Vinden Partnership


Preparing for Mediation: The Power of the Opening Statement

preparing-for-mediation-opening-statement

Ten years ago I penned an article entitled “Preparing for Mediation”. What I said then still holds true but I am not going to waste column inches on this article by repeating what I said in 2006. If you want to read the original article then simply visit vinden.co.uk and look down the titles listed in my blog for the article in question. It is an easy read and, if I say so myself, a useful overview and summary of how to prepare successfully for mediation.

They say that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks but recently I have witnessed, first hand, how a well researched, well planned and delivered opening statement can set the tone of the mediation and have a surprising and even damaging impact on an opponent at the very start of the mediation.

The vast majority of mediations start with the mediator sitting with the parties in a joint session, explaining his or her role, what mediation is all about, the ground rules and so on. Invariably, the mediator will then invite the parties to make an opening statement. Many parties pay little attention to the importance of the opening address, wrongly believing that the mediator will be doing all the hard work later on in the mediation and nothing of importance can come out of the opening statements. How wrong can they be?

It is your job to convince your opponent of the strength of your case, not the Mediator’s. What better opportunity can there be to do this than in the opening statement?

So who should deliver the opening statement?

Yes, I know that you may have one or more expensive solicitors with you and/or counsel present. Even so, it should not automatically fall to the lawyers to deliver the opening statement. Remember it is your dispute, not your lawyers’. What will your opponent expect? What will have the greatest impact on your opponent? The answers to these questions will dictate who should deliver the opening statement.

It goes without saying that the selected person must be willing and able to make the opening. The default position should not be a lawyer. It’s your dispute so keep this firmly in your mind. What is best for you and what will be most effective?

How should you deliver your opening?

Resist the urge to “go through the motions” and get your opening out of the way. This is your opportunity to make an impact on your opponents at a key point – at the outset. It never ceases to amaze me how many parties are willing to discard the chance to make that all-important first impression.

Now for some body language tips. Maintaining eye contact with your opponent will convey determination and sincerity. Avoid the temptation to read from a pre-prepared text. Be passionate without resorting to shouting. Your whole body language should convey “we are here to do business but we are no push-overs”.

Now it is time to think about content. What should you say in your opening address?

Clearly every mediation is different and careful thought needs to be given to what you are going to say, depending on the individual facts of each case. But here are a few simple guidelines on content to follow.

Simply reading the position statement provided previously is not a good idea. It needs to be original, at least in part.

Refer to key points in your opponent’s position statement to show that you have considered and understand your opponent’s case.

Avoid making personal attacks and insulting your opponent. Although you might feel better afterwards, is this really going to help you get a deal done?

Are you at the mediation because you recognise that both parties will incur unavoidable costs if settlement is not achieved? If you believe this, saying so will do you no harm.

Preparing thoroughly for a mediation will improve your chances of getting a settlement immeasurably. Delivering a good opening statement on the day of the mediation is a key part of the preparation process. I might be an old dog, but I am willing to learn new tricks. Are you?

Peter Vinden is a commercial, work place and employment mediator, an arbitrator, adjudicator, expert and conciliator. He is Managing Director of The Vinden Partnership and can be contacted by email at pvinden@vinden.co.uk

Contact Us

The Vinden Partnership

Regent House

Folds Point

Folds Road

Bolton

Lancashire

BL1 2RZ

Bolton – Telephone: 01204 362888

Nottingham - Telephone: 0115 947 5334

London – Telephone: 0845 504 9733

www.vinden.co.uk

 twitterfacebooklinkedin

Company eBook

Testimonials


Thank you to TVP for all your help on this incredibly successful project. We are very grateful for the leading role you have played as Quantity Surveyors and Employer’s Agent in making it come together without any major issues or disputes, which is quite a feat in the building industry.”



Oliver Jackson, Director of Strategy, Roberts Jackson Solicitors
  • UK Construction Online’s Stakeholder page offers you the chance to find and learn about the leading companies in the UK Construction Industry.

    Featuring the very best suppliers and operators in the sector our stakeholder’s pages offer detailed information about the company, their latest case studies and press releases, plus products and services and testimonials.

    We work with our stakeholders to constantly update and maintain this database to ensure that the information is relevant and helpful for those looking to source premium quality companies in the UK construction market.

    You can ‘View all Stakeholders’ or use the drop down menus to find specific stakeholders via their company name or by sector.

    Join the Fastest Growing Community for Construction

    UK Construction Online's Stakeholder package quickly connects your company to our vast audience of over 250,000 visitors a month.

    View our latest Alexa ranking:

    What is a Stakeholder?

    A stakeholder is a Mircosite that has the power to highlight a product or service, launch a promotion, or promote brand awareness to the construction industry in a way that full websites or more traditional marketing cannot.

    All stakeholders have the ability to have their latest press releases and case studies promoted across the UK Construction Online platform. UK Construction Online is updated daily, with the latest news across all sectors within the construction industry and all stakeholders are promoted on both social media and to a mailing list of over 122,000 subscribers.

    UK Construction Media
    0800 6127680
    enquiries@promarkmedia.co.uk