Mediating Banking Disputes – The Role of Senior Decision Makers

Summary. In order to maximise the chances of a successful mediation in the banking sector, the following factors should be considered when deciding who participates in the process; 1) presence of decision makers, 2) matching seniority, 3) key witnesses, 4) legal counsel, 5) experts and 6) personally involved individuals.

Top tip. Work with your mediator as soon as possible while preparing for your case if you are unsure about who should attend.


In the world of high-stakes banking mediations, success or failure hinges on a multitude of factors.  One stand out element however is the presence of senior individuals. This is not merely a matter of hierarchy but a strategic necessity in resolving complex financial disputes.

In this blog, we delve into the significance of having senior decision makers at the forefront of banking mediations.

The Art of Strategic Selection

Mediation is as much about process as it is about personnel. The careful selection of who participates and when, can profoundly influence the outcome. In preparation for mediating a banking dispute, the following areas should be considered, seeking the advice of the mediator if needed.

1. The Decision Makers

The presence of key decision makers is paramount. In the ever-evolving landscape of a mediation, settlement views can transform dramatically. If the ultimate decision maker is absent and reliant on remote updates, the efficacy of the process may be compromised. Timely decisions and real-time reactions to the fluid nature of negotiations are essential. An absent decision maker may miss the nuanced shifts that could be crucial to striking a deal.

2. Matching Seniority

Striving for parity in representation is an often-overlooked consideration. When the seniority of attendees aligns between the disputing parties, its sends a signal that both sides are taking the process seriously which helps foster rapport, productive dialogue and lays the foundations for effective negotiation. Fail to match seniority and you run the risk of insulting the other side, hindering the ability to make progress.

Real-World Illustration: A Cross-Border Banking Dispute

Consider a recent mediation conducted by CEDR Mediator Nick Pearson, where a customer sued a bank for alleged negligent advice. The customer, an organisation in the Middle East, whose chairperson had substantial influence in the industry, travelled to London for the mediation. The bank, aware of the customer’s stature, was strategic and wise in bringing one of their most senior bankers to the table. This choice not only paid due respect to the customer but also signalled the bank’s commitment to addressing the dispute seriously. The presence of a senior decision maker from the bank expedited the settlement process, highlighting the importance of this tactical choice.

Beyond Senior Decision Makers

While senior decision makers hold a pivotal role, mediations may require additional personnel with specific roles:

3. Key Witnesses

Key witnesses, when strong and confident, can be valuable assets during mediation. They can bolster the credibility of a party’s claims. However, their attendance is reliant on their relevance and impact. If their contribution to the mediation is limited, their presence might not be necessary, potentially complicating matters and adding to cost.

4. Legal Counsel

If the other party arrives with counsel, it’s often advantageous to have legal representation to allow for relevant legal discussions to take place.  It may be, as part of the process, the mediator recommends convening counsel in private to talk through legal components of the claim while other personnel focus on more commercial or personal matters. Remote access for legal counsel is a viable alternative if required.

5. Experts

In cases involving complex financial matters, experts play an invaluable role. Their presence helps provide guidance and insight on intricate issues, fostering a better understanding among all parties. They can be the linchpin for crafting innovative solutions.

6. Personally Involved Individuals

Individuals closely connected to the underlying matters in dispute bring first-hand knowledge and perspectives. This is invaluable for context, but their emotional involvement might lead to defensiveness and inflexibility. Careful consideration is required to strike a balance.

Preparing them in advance of the process, with the help of the mediator can be incredibly helpful. Equally, the flexibility of mediation allows the mediator and parties to decide on their level of involvement to maximise the benefit of their input.


The success of banking mediations depends heavily on the composition of attendees. While senior decision makers take the lead, the composition of the entire team is crucial . It’s a complex and multifaceted interplay, but understanding the importance of senior individuals at the forefront of the process is a fundamental step towards achieving success in the world of banking mediation.

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