The Civil Mediation Council (CMC) held their Annual Conference yesterday at the Birmingham Motorcycle Museum. After catching a 6.30am train from Euston, I arrived in good time to mingle with a large sample of the country’s civil mediators. There were about 250 people from all over UK, some working for high stakes and some for community mediation projects.
The day was split up between conference speakers – prominent figures from the world of mediation – and networking breaks for refreshments. The main themes were how to promote the use of mediation, relevant to all since a survey of delegates showed the average number of mediations performed by each is 5 per year; international perspectives; and whether to promote or regulate recognised standards for the profession.
Initially we heard from the CMC President, Lord Slynn, and Chairman, Sir Henry Brook, who introduced the day’s topics; and Judith Kelbie (one of the tutors on my accreditation course) about the activities of the CMC.
During the morning an impressive array of speakers included Ministry of Justice, Judge Stephen Oliver-Jones, and professionals from both sides of insurance and litigation. It was heartening to hear from individuals who were promoting the use and relevance of mediation from within the legal system, but impossible to miss how unusual they all were among their colleagues. Listening to one after the other tell a similar tale of needing to get the word out, I bagn to fear that mediation has hit an invisible ceiling with a long wait before it is integrated into the general practice of litigation, judiciary and the public at large… What we all want to hear people saying is “Lets settle this in mediation..” instead of “I’ll see you in court”!!
Finally, just before lunch, came an unexpected lift. Stephen Ruttle QC talked in broad concepts about the realms of mediation, its scientific yet intuitive nature, the need for inclusion into social policy for housing estates, schools and communities damaged by antisocial behaviour; and he finished up urging everyone to contribute by demonstrating how powerful community mediation can be and thereby force the government and legal institutions to take note. Stephen’s speech was a turningpoint in the day because he brought us all back to the reason so many of us had become mediators.