The authors Eileen Carroll & Dr Karl Mackie hardly need an introduction due to their contribution to the work of CEDR and within the mediation field. The need for a book about international mediation is illustrated by the growth of globalisation where business is bound to be conducted over a series of borders and cultural misunderstandings can result.
As the authors write “In international disputes, problems are compounded by geographical and cultural distance, different cultural understandings, political interferences, changing commercial agendas and many other potential hazards that can “drive” on our metaphoric bridge.”
For mediators it is heartening that the field of mediation is still in a growth stage and as Carroll and Mackie point out with the transformation of the global, commercial, legal and political structures and traffic this will prove to be one of the great management and social challenges of the 21st century with conflict systems playing a small yet vital ingredient. The need for mediators and for mediation skills is compelling.
What are the key strengths of the book?
What I liked most about the book was the authors’ display of knowledge regarding the mediation process and their practical use of the information which they hand out. This comes to the fore when the authors provide guidance on the legal and procedural issues which need to be considered when advising on the use of mediation as a tool for resolution of international disputes. For example useful guidance will be given to the practitioner that smaller focused teams are more effective than larger ones and the importance of having the decision maker present at the mediation. With respect to involvement of advisors as they observe “….. if there is lot of value in the dispute or an important contract interpretation, or when commercial principals want additional advice on the likely result of going to court or arbitration, early external advice may be advisable in order to decide on a negotiating position.”
Highlighting the iceberg costs of litigation, the authors can show the benefits of their senior role in CEDR such as the hidden costs of conflict which highlights the core problem of the accounting approach to litigation. Such costs include lost customers, damage to business relationships, missed opportunities or diversion of management time.
Clearly lawyers and their clients need to put this into consideration when asking if it is in their interests for clients to pursue cases. Legal costs are significant but they are not the only costs in pursuing litigation.
The chapter on six steps to mediation settlement – is a real strength of the book where it explores the negotiation dance and the different phases of how a settlement is reached. The authors are right to emphasise that in the private session it is the role of the mediator to establish the power balances within the group.
As a mediator one of the primary difficulties I have faced is how to balance my facilitation role with a need for the parties to see sense but without antagonising them. Carroll and Mackie are right that the least helpful technique in many cases is for the mediator to give a view about the case and mediators are there primarily to help techniques to re-evaluate the merits and negotiations on them.
With respect to structure, the book contains the following chapters:
- The Potential For International Mediation in Business Conflicts
- Breaking Deadlock – The Power of Mediation
- The Decision To Mediate – How to get started
- “Form and Flexibility” – The Mediation Framework
- Preparing For Success in Mediated Negotiations
- Steps to Settlement: The Negotiating Dance
- Achieving and Implementing Mediation Settlements
- The Challenges and Alternatives to Mediation
- Forging Leadership in International Mediation
- Diplomacy at the Heart of Business
Part 2 contains a section on dealing with cases and materials in International Mediation.
Also some very good support with diagrams which are featured in the book are useful in providing support and explanation.
Recommendations? I felt structure could have been cleaner. By way of example (useful) quotations used at the beginning of chapters 1 and 2 made similar points about control of the mediation process. Chapters 1, 2 & 4 contained some material on the benefits of mediation where this could all has been dealt with in one go.
Sharper planning would have avoided this and perhaps ensured less repetition.
Also I would have preferred to see more detail about how mediation is used in different countries such as different models and forms and also more information on the law of some of the key countries.
Nevertheless overall the book has been of much use as I seek to develop my knowledge within this field and is a recommended read due to the sheer depth of knowledge communicated by the authors in a relatively succinct way.