9 June 2003
Employment mediation - the third way
Joint press release from Fox Williams and Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR)
What do you do when an employment dispute arises?
You can hope it will go away, but more than likely it will end-up in litigation. The result is a process which is fraught with difficulty and costly for all parties concerned.
For employers, the costs arise from lost management time, low morale and Ďpoisoní in the workplace, legal costs, as well as damages and compensation payments.
For employees, the costs are in terms of stress, uncertainty, and the payment of legal costs.
In reality, there are no real winners. However, there is a third way.
Employment Mediation - changing the way employment disputes are resolved
Independent city law firm, Fox Williams, and CEDR (Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution) have combined their knowledge and expertise to bring together a solution to maximise the use and benefits of mediation in employment.
The aim is to help employers and employees resolve workplace and termination disputes quickly, effectively and less expensively than anything which is currently on offer. Surprisingly, despite evidence from countries such as New Zealand, where mediation is an essential tool in resolving employment disputes, it has not, until now, been used extensively in employment disputes in the UK.
As the Employment Tribunal system buckles under the volume of claims, and the process becomes costlier and more time-consuming, Fox Williams and CEDR feel that now is the time for HR policy generators to really take note of the potential benefits that mediation can deliver in the HR arena.
With this in mind, on 21 May 2003 Fox Williams and CEDR held a joint strategic thinktank to consider the use of mediation in employment disputes. The idea behind the thinktank was to explore whether HR policy makers agreed that mediation could be beneficial, and, if so, in what way it could be incorporated into HR policy. It provided an informal forum for discussion and policy generation among those at the front-line of HR management. Participants formed a broad spectrum of those typically involved in the shaping of HR policy and included HR directors, in-house legal directors, trade union representatives and the DTI.
Feedback from the participants, many of whom were representatives of some of the largest companies and organisations in the UK, has been extremely positive. In response to this interest, Fox Williams and CEDR will be running pilot projects and further seminars to road-test this new concept.
This initiative is being driven by Anne Coles and John Greager, both solicitor-advocates and experienced mediation lawyers from Fox Williams and Lisa Watson from CEDR. If you would like more information about this initiative or would like to attend a future thinktank, then we would like to hear from you.
Notes to Editors
CEDR (Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution) is the leader in the development of neutral-assisted dispute resolution. It is a non-profit organisation and its mission is to encourage and develop cost-effective dispute prevention and dispute resolution in commercial and public sector disputes and in civil litigation.
CEDR Solve, CEDR's dispute resolution and prevention service, is the UK's leading provider of commercial mediation and other assisted dispute resolution processes.
Fox Williams is a leading independent business law firm in the City of London, serving a diverse client-base ranging from PLCs, multi-nationals and financial institutions through to small businesses and individual entrepreneurs.
The firmís Employment department is regarded as one of the best in the country, and our expertise in dispute resolution, and in particular mediation, is highly regarded.
The firm's other key specialisms include Partnership, Corporate & Commercial and Commerce & Technology. Operating as business partners with our clients, we have built a solid reputation for advising on complex legal and regulatory issues in our core areas of expertise.
Employment mediation thinktank speakers
Anne Coles and John Greager, both senior lawyers from Fox Williams, introduced the concept of an employment mediation thinktank. Anne, who is a trained mediator, explained the role that mediation can play in employment disputes and the stages in a dispute at which it is likely to be best employed. John, one of the UKís most experienced mediation lawyers with 100 mediations under his belt, took a comparative look at the New Zealand system, where it is compulsory for all employment disputes to go to mediation, and the UK system.
A mediation role play demonstration was conducted by Terry Jones, CEDR Director, and Heather Allen, CEDR Solve mediator, to outline the practicalities and benefits of the mediation process.
Maria Burroughs of the DTI outlined the government's current position on mediation of employment disputes, concluding that it is unlikely that the government will set up a publicly-funded mediation system of the kind which operates in New Zealand, thus leaving the matter of employment mediation to be resolved by the private sector.
The final speaker was Rory Murphy, joint general secretary of UNIFI, the finance sector trade union, who suggested that mediation should be the golden thread that runs through an organisationís HR policy, rather than simply a stage in a grievance procedure.
For further information please contact:
Anne Coles, Fox Williams
tel: 020 7614 2677
John Greager, Fox Williams
tel: 020 7614 2544
Lisa Watson, CEDR
tel: 020 7536 6000