find the latest legal job
Corporate Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Highly-respected, innovative and entrepreneurial Not-for-Profit · Competency based Board
View details
Chief Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Dynamic, high growth organisation · ASX listed market leader
View details
In-house Projects Lawyer | Renewables / Solar | 2-5 Years PQE
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: All Australia
· Help design the future · NASDAQ Listed
View details
Property lawyer - Melbourne
Category: Property Law | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Impressive client list, national firm · Well-led and high-performing team
View details
Senior family lawyer - Melbourne
Category: Family Law | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Outstanding national firm · High-calibre family law team
View details
Mediation demand driven by client enthusiasm

Mediation demand driven by client enthusiasm

Corporate clients are increasingly embracing mediation as a method of dispute resolution, prompting lawyers to follow suit, one barrister has said.

Speaking with Lawyers Weekly, Anthony Lo Surdo SC of 12 Wentworth Selborne Chambers said there has been a significant change in the way mediation is viewed in the business world.

“Mediation was initially something the courts were imposing upon the parties, partly to address the backlog in the resolution of civil matters,” he said.

In recent years, however, the business community has seen first-hand the benefits of having disputes resolved expeditiously in mediation, Mr Lo Surdo continued.

“When I first did my mediation training in 1993, it wasn't something that was universally embraced,” he said.  

The courts, particularly in NSW, were using mediation but lawyers were “a little bit sceptical about it” at that time, he continued.

“They were concerned it might lead to a demise in work,” Mr Lo Surdo added.

However, a "top-down" change has occurred slowly over the past 20 years or so, driven by clients seeking the savings in time and money that mediation delivers, according to Mr Lo Surdo.

Now that companies are electing to mediate more often, it is important that they get the timing right, he said.

Matters that are referred to mediation too late are sometimes difficult to settle because parties have already incurred high costs, said Mr Lo Surdo.

“Cases going to mediation early also have their difficulties,” he said. “Sometimes the issues aren't well crystallised at that time.”

While professional mediators are increasingly common in mediation, practising lawyers still have an edge, said Mr Lo Surdo.

“Being a practising lawyer or having expertise in the particular area of dispute lends a bit of gravitas – it adds another layer of confidence in the process,” he said.

Lawyers who have a practice beyond mediation can bring something new to the process, according to Mr Lo Surdo.

“They have an intimate and current knowledge of the pressures the parties and lawyers face in preparing matters for hearing and running matters in court,” he said.

“That gives them an insight into the drivers and factors that might be relevant to resolving the dispute.

“It also gives the parties some degree of confidence that the person there understands their case.”

While mediators do not give advice directly, it is often of assistance to the parties to hear a third-party evaluation from a mediator, continued Mr Lo Surdo.

“Often, that resonates with advice or comments made by their own lawyers. It assists the parties in being able to change or amend their expectations, and that might then drive the parties closer together.”

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Mediation demand driven by client enthusiasm
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Aug 23 2017
NT Law Society sounds alarm on mandatory sentencing
The Law Society Northern Territory has issued a warning over mandatory sentencing, saying it hasn’...
Aug 22 2017
Professionals unite in support of marriage equality
The presidents of representative bodies for solicitors, barristers and doctors in NSW have come toge...
Aug 21 2017
Is your firm on the right track for gig economy gains?
Promoted by Crowd & Co. The way we do business, where we work, how we engage with workers, ev...
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...