Saturday, January 31

Mediators have no interest in justice and fairness; Charlie Irvine bites back!

Well, I'm not sure of the politics behind this exchange.

But read Charlie Irvine's response to senior academic and Honorary Queen’s Counsel Dame Hazel Genn's lecture in December 2008 ADR and Civil Justice: What’s justice got to do with it?

Hazel (can I call you Hazel?) suggests that mediation ‘is not about just settlement’ but rather ‘it is just about settlement' and helpfully comments that ’perhaps everything can be mediated and the courts can all become pubs and restaurants'. (Ed: warm beer and jellied eel please)

Charlie takes up the story; "In December 2008 I attended the Hamlyn Lecture, delivered in Edinburgh by Dame Hazel Genn. Her topic was Civil Justice and ADR, but she quickly made it clear that her main interest, or target, was mediation. I readied myself for a verbal assault, and got one, but in more trenchant terms than I had anticipated.

While there was nothing new in Dame Hazel’s litany of mediation’s failings, I was startled and a bit stung by the rhetorical flourish with which it was uttered. What’s worse, having worked myself up to overcome the intimidating ambience of Edinburgh’s Old College(the very heart of the Scottish legal establishment) by speaking up for poor little mediation, we were told there would be no questions, just a wee drink.

Well, having had the drink, and some time to reflect, I still want to come back at her. Normally one listens to senior academics respectfully, ascribing a degree of dispassionate objectivity to their pronouncements. But when Dame Hazel turned her withering prose on mediators I was riled. It was particularly galling to hear her... [read more]


Charlie Irvine said...

It's nice that someone has picked up on this, but you've got a picture of 'the other Charlie Irvine' - he's in London and I'm in Glasgow. Anyway, I don't suppose it matters to anyone but him and me!
You mention the politics of this. Well that does matter. Scotland is in the middle of a review of civil justice. Unsurprisingly, the spectre of the Woolf reforms hangs over our little jurisdiction, and some might have hoped that Lord Gill would follow that precedent. However, it's not for nothing that mediation has been slow to take off in Scotland. When certain members of the review committee were seen to nod in wholehearted approval of Dame Hazel's broadside, it confirmed that she was telling them what they most wanted to hear - that mediation is pie-in-the-sky, touchy-feely activity for unrealistic do-gooders, and the law is practical, down to earth and just. So, everything is fine, and nothing needs to change.
Expect no more than a modest tip of the hat towards mediation in the Gill Review's report, due in May.

Geoff Sharp said...

Charlie, apologies for the photo. I have taken it down but happy to put up one of the real Charlie Irvine! I would welcome more from you on this when the Gill Report is out.