John Fordham – A Tribute

It is with great sadness that CEDR learned of the passing of John Fordham.

John was accredited as a mediator by CEDR in 1995 and went on to mediate across the globe alongside being a partner and latterly consultant at Stephenson Harwood.

John was an early and long-time supporter of both CEDR and mediation more generally and as an organisation we are grateful to the immense contribution he made.

CEDR Founders Eileen Carroll KC (Hon) and Dr Karl Mackie CBE remember John below.

Eileen Carroll KC (Hon)

It was with great sadness that we received the news that John Fordham had died.

He was simply a tour de force and a wonderful combination of humour and humility.

CEDR was very fortunate to have John as an early adopter of mediation. He was a caring and thoughtful man, always very kind despite the high expectations he had of all those around him.

I remember our last conversations and how much he loved being a mediator. He understood the role of mediation as a strategic part of the litigation process.

It is humbling to think that after such a long and distinguished career that he wanted to devote his energies and talent to Mediation.

He will be greatly missed I feel personally very lucky over the last 25 years to have got to see John at work and his commitment and to know him as a friend.

Dr Karl Mackie CBE

It was deeply upsetting to hear of John Fordham’s passing and my deep condolences to his friends, family and colleagues.

I first came across John in the early years of CEDR when he was part of a legal team on the highly significant case of the Maxwell Pensions litigation – where separate groups of employee pension trustees were seeking recovery from insurers of the pension fund moneys that the tycoon Robert Maxwell had apparently diverted to prop up his business empire.

At a time when it was still a challenge to get even workaday commercial cases to mediation, John and his colleagues were seeking to understand how the process might work for a mega-case of huge value and a ‘class action’ of a sort.

Eileen Carroll and I worked for over a year to go round all the separate players to engage each team with the idea and to craft a process and mediation team that would be acceptable.  John and others were bought in early on, even without direct experience of mediation, as they were aware that multiple interim court hearings had cost the claimants a fortune and but with little substantive progress towards releasing a reasonable pot from insurers.

I was to observe John in many meetings and can only endorse the testimonial I saw in his firm’s website that he was a ‘force of nature’.  He not only brought this energy to his role as head of litigation at Stephenson Harwood for many years, he was to bring it into his role as a mediator when he joined the CEDR and became a mediator of high commercial repute.

We will miss John’s engaging energy and his insights into multiple cases and mediations, as well as his lively friendship.


Please access a full tribute to John on the Stephenson Harwood website here.


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