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High conflict doesn’t have to mean court. Here’s how mediation can help….

8th November 2018 by Kenneth Clarke

Categories: Family Mediation News, What's New?
Tags: , ,

Sometimes as a mediator I feel I possess the Midas touch, pulling family disputes from the brink of failure, whilst at other times I seem to be overwhelmed by the intransigence of bitter parties, rigidly holding on to fixed positions and seemingly nurturing total disrespect, both for their once cherished partner and the mediation process itself.

Repeating the mantra of the best case-worse -case scenario and the cost consequences of litigation to immovable disputants, can seem like talking to the proverbial brick wall, and can lead to both mediator and clients reaching for the exit door.

However, deadlock doesn’t have to mean defeat.

Three of my cases last month, all financial disputes, disprove that theory and the magic ingredients were the perseverance of the mediator and the parties, the trust the parties had for their mediator (and therefore the process) and patience in between sessions, which gave the participants time to react calmly, process the legal information and seek legal advice.

The birth of a solution in high conflict cases often requires a long gestation period.

One of my cases only had three sessions, but the arduous journey to resolution actually took nine months, nine months in which the parties gradually unravelled themselves from their entrenched positions, threatened litigation, faced the brink of failure, but finally faced the best-case, worse-case scenario and came to a settlement, saving themselves the time, uncertainty and substantial costs of court proceedings.

All three cases can be described as modest asset cases (the net assets being between £250-400,000), with a perfect solution being impossible to meet everyone’s needs. Compromise was inevitable, but this reality only dawned on the parties after the long gestation period.

One of the huge benefits of mediation is that it is not time limited. No court imposed deadlines to meet, no deadlines imposed by lawyers ticking away. The parties are free to dictate the pace and arrive at a solution that has had the benefit of time in which to ferment, solidify and satisfy both party’s needs, as expectations level out to accommodate the necessity for reasonableness on both sides.

For further information on our Family Mediation services please click here. 

Kenneth Clarke

Associate — Family Mediation

Direct dial: 01202 721822


“What could have potentially been an extremely upsetting and inflammatory scenario, proved to be a surprisingly smooth and conflict free process through Laceys mediation. With Kenneth’s extensive experience we were able to reach an agreeable outcome without spending our life savings!”

Julie Morris

Kenneth is the elder statesman of our mediation team, with forty years’ experience as a family lawyer, and qualified as a mediator in 1996. Kenneth has been a key member of the Laceys mediation team since 2005, specialising in financial and children cases, with a particular interest and specialisation in high conflict cases.

Kenneth is also qualified to consult with children, a growing part of the mediation process. Always looking to expand the boundaries of mediation practice,  Kenneth brings a degree of gravitas, humour, understanding and empathy when he mediates with clients,  creating a positive environment in which clients work together to resolve their issues quickly and cost-effectively.

Out of office hours, Kenneth’s main passion is writing musical theatre. When he has time Kenneth also enjoys travel, especially cruising.

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