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Henry Brown Looks Back

We all stand on the shoulders of our own Henry Browns. And one day I will tell you about mine.

But for now, I imagine many UK mediators look to Henry Brown as their Henry Brown.

This interview is a thoughtful look back at 25 years of life as a UK mediator.

In particular, Brown makes the point that the mediation process has not dealt well with the strong sense of fairness brought to the table by the many who use it.

‘We’ve got to do more work on understanding people’s attitudes towards their disputes; their ownership of disputes; their investment of energy into that dispute and how to help them find a way through that isn’t based on something they will perceive to be unfair. It’s a packaging issue,’ he concludes, ‘but it’s a substance issue too…

Systemically I think we’ve caught ourselves up in not giving enough attention to people’s sense of fairness and right and wrong. Where necessary I deal with fairness if only to get it on the table so both sides can be heard and understand what each other’s sense of fairness is. They might conclude, “we can’t agree, now we’ll deal pragmatically with what’s in the future,” but you can’t dump history and excise it,’ Brown concludes. [read more]

I don’t know about you, but fairness, that’s a tall order – I nailed my colours to the mast in my last post when I offered a view of negotiation in mediation as ‘often unprincipled and pragmatic, not weighed down by ‘the case’, but more about what can be achieved around that table on that day with that amount of talking behind them’ – and I’m not sure that fairness is a packaging issue at all…

                        author

Geoff Sharp

Geoff Sharp is a Commercial Mediator from Wellington, New Zealand. Geoff works in the Asia Pacific region, including New Zealand, Malaysia, Thailand and Pacific Islands. He is a mediator resolving business problems. He is a fellow of the International Academy of Mediators and mediates complex and hotly debated litigation covering… MORE >

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