Opening Statement at Joint Session

The opening meeting is a traditional face to face session where both parties meet with the mediator at the same time.

Many modern mediators dispense with this stage and enter into private discussions immediately, preferring to use joint meetings for a particular purpose, or for certain individuals to talk, or not at all.

If your mediator considers that an opening session is appropriate in your case, you may be invited to make an opening statement.

Here are some observations from our mediators' experience.

Face to face?

 

  • Keep it brief - everyone has read the papers and this is not an adversarial hearing.

  • Introduce yourself, your client and anybody else in your party.

  • Remember that this may be the first time that your client and the other party have seen each other for a long time - it is a powerful opportunity to dispel some of the "demonisation" that may have occurred.

  • Use first names rather than titles, e.g. this is 'John Browne', rather than this is 'Mr Browne'

  • Express your good faith and sincere desire to use the mediation process to settle if at all possible (assuming it's true).

  • Briefly set out your case, why you hold that position, and explain why there are areas of disagreement with the other parties' positions.

  • Explain why contrary positions are held in good faith, and are not 'mere traversals'.

  • Avoid legal jargon or reading out a 'pleading'.

  • You can use elements of the written Position Statement if you like, and include 'soft' items that are of importance such as an apology or other items that a court could not consider.