Considering overly aggressive opening offers at mediation.

March 4, 2018
Opening offers can help make or break a deal.  A reasonable opening offer can help achieve an 'anchoring effect', tilting the settlement in that party's favour.

However, an overly aggressive opening offer can significantly hinder the chances of settlement.  As a mediator, I often find it helpful to try and explore that party's interests and bargaining strategies, by asking:
  • How do you think that offer is likely to be received?
  • How might you react to that offer if you were in the other party's shoes?
  • Do you consider that your offer/demand will be sufficiently attractive to the other party to generate a reasonable counter offer?
  • Whose interests do you consider would be best served by resolving the dispute along those lines, on in that range?
I have found that learning/discussing the motivations behind aggressive opening proposals helps that party consider their own bargaining strategies.  This can help soften their opening demands, and make more reasonable opening offers.

The real drivers of settlement at mediation tend to be the need for finality and closure, the need to limit costs, a need to maintain dignity, a need for certainty of outcome, and a key way to achieve these is by the mutual recognition of the common interests of the Claimant and Defendant.


Ireland's Mediation Act 2017

January 21, 2018
When I was in Maynooth, Ireland, in December 2017, (attending a negotiation course), one of the key topics the attendees were discussing (other than Brexit) was the Mediation Act 2017.

Ireland's Mediation Act 2017 was enacted on 2nd October 2017.  The Act contains provisions for a comprehensive statutory framework to promote the resolution of disputes through mediation as a viable, effective and efficient alternative to Court proceedings.  This is done in order to reduce legal costs, speed up ...
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Negotiation Competition 2018

January 7, 2018
CEDR and the University of Law have announced the launch of the 2018 National Student Negotiation Competition for England and Wales. 

Pairs of Law Students will compete against other to negotiate a series of challenging scenarios.  The national competition consists of regional heats in Bristol, Chester, Leeds and London on 24th February 2018.  The national final will take place in London on 24th March 2018. 

More details are available from CEDR at

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Harvard Law School's Program on Negotiation

December 17, 2017
Harvard's Program on Negotiation is committed to improving the theory and practise of negotiation.  The goal of the Program on Negotiation's PON Global Course is to bring their best thinking, research and expertise to people around the world who want to improve their ability to negotiate.

I attended the PON Global Course, hosted by Maynooth University, Ireland in December 2017 and was impressed by the content and structure of the course.  The content was combined with practical exercises, whic...
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Harvard's Program on Negotion

November 29, 2017
It's only 7 days until I commence Harvard Law School's Program on Negotiation!!!

Harvard have been offering the executive education program for more than 30 years.  As an experienced mediator, and also as a practising dispute resolution solicitor, I'm hoping that the course will provide an advanced, international perspective on these essential skills.
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Online Mediation

October 22, 2017
Online mediation is very similar to face to face mediation but the meetings take place over webcams on a computer, tablet or even a smartphone, rather than in the same room.

Online mediation may be preferred if:
  • The parties does not liver near to each other, or indeed, if they are in different countries;
  • The parties do not live near to a mediator;
  • The parties wish to save time travelling to the mediator; 
  • A party considers that they would be at risk of harm if they were in the same room as the oth...

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Causes of disagreements at work

August 28, 2017
Common causes of disagreements at work include:
  • Unclear job roles
  • Insufficient training
  • Poor management
  • Poor communications
  • Poor work environment
  • Unfair treatment
  • Bullying and harassment
  • Lack of equal opportunities
ACAS identified the above factors in 'Managing Conflict at Work'.  Some of these issues can by the direct cause of the conflict, for instance discrimination and bullying may be the direct causes in themselves.  Sometimes however the causes of conflict may suddenly flare-up after remaining d...

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Mediation of probate, wills and inheritance disputes in London

August 28, 2017
Many different types of dispute can arise out of a deceased's estate.  These can include disputes concerning:
  1. Lack of testamentary capacity;
  2. Lack of due execution;
  3. Undue influence;
  4. Construction or interpretation of a Will;
  5. A failure to make adequate financial provision (pursued under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975); and
  6. Disputes during the administration of estates.
Mediation is ideally suited to resolving such probate, wills and inheritance disputes in London.  Famil...

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Mediation of Probate Disputes in London

August 26, 2017
Many different types of contentious probate disputes can arise.  These can include disputes concerning:
  • A failure to make adequate financial provision (pursued under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975);
  • Lack of testamentary capacity;
  • Lack of knowledge and approval;
  • Lack of due execution;
  • Undue influence;
  • Fraud and forgery;
  • Revocation;
  • Construction or interpretation of a Will; and
  • Disputes during the administration of estates.
Mediation is ideally suited to resolving contenti...

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What is 'Commercial Reality'?

August 20, 2017
As a civil and commercial reality, and also as a dispute resolution solicitor, I often discuss the phrase 'the commercial reality' with users of mediation and my legal clients.  When emotions run high, asking a party about the commercial reality can often bring their focus back onto settlement, as they consider the inherent risks of litigation, and the costs of wasted energy, anxiety, time and money.
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About Me

Stephen Wood is an ADR Group Accredited Civil & Commercial Mediator, an ADR Group Accredited Workplace Mediator, an ADR Group Accredited Online Mediator and a Consultant Litigation Solicitor. In 2017 Stephen was appointed to the Panel of Chairs of the Valuation Tribunal of England. Stephen has undertaken over 50 paid mediations.