Disability Case Study

Mediation Works – Susanna Diegel

“I thought I would drop you a line with some feedback on the mediation on Monday last.

The technology all worked very well and the whole process was simple and straightforward. Being disabled with very limited energy and not good travelling, having the facility to conduct the mediation by telephone was excellent. The Guide was also helpful and well presented.

Thanks for your input into the mediation.” 

-The complainant.

The complainant, who is based in northern England, suffers from a disorder of the nervous system which leaves her with physical and mental exhaustion following any exertion. This condition doesn’t allow her to do anything stressful for any longer than 2 hours, and each 2 hour stretch requires her to take a minimum of a day’s rest. The challenge was to find a venue that required as little travel as possible, as travelling would require the complainant to have a lengthy rest period before she would be able to engage in the mediation meeting.

“Traditional” telephone shuttle mediation could potentially have stretched over a number of weeks because of  the need for periods of rest between sessions. In addition, the claim had been lodged with the court and the deadline of stay for mediation was approaching. With the agreement of both parties, the mediator chose to try conference calling using Kidatu’s Accord service.

The complainant and her supporter remained at home using a telephone with dual handset, the mediator worked from her home office, and the solicitor and respondent gathered around a speakerphone in London. The Kidatu operator dialed out to all of the parties, placing them together for the start of the mediation meeting. The first session lasted an hour. At this point the complainant needed a short rest.

Shortly after the parties reconvened, the mediator requested that the parties be put in separate rooms. She then moved backwards and forwards between the parties to deal with the issue of compensation. The complainant’s medical condition finally required a halt to the mediation after 2 hours and 15 minutes, before a full agreement had been reached and recorded, but with all of the issues aired and a verbal offer to be confirmed in writing.

The mediator Susanna Diegel said: “The system worked extremely well, the joint discussion allowed each side to hear from and respond to each other directly. When we broke into separate sessions I was able to speak in complete confidence to each side in turn, and quickly move back to the other party. I doubt we could have achieved as much as we did by any other method. Whilst the lack of being able to observe parties’ body language requires the mediator to use different techniques such as conveying emotional elements verbally and ensuring frequently that parties are satisfied with progress, not having to deal with the technical moving of people into the virtual mediation rooms enables the mediator to focus strongly on those elements of the mediation.”

Susanna Diegel is Contracts Manager for Mediaton Works.