COLIN STEWART ROBERTSON
MBA – MRICS - MCIArb
Civil, Commercial, Workplace & Community/Neighbourhood Mediator
Mediation Commissions, Advice & Support
With over 45 years experience as a Construction Dispute Resolution practitioner Colin Robertson now devotes his expertise to assisting resolution solely through mediation. As a Chartered Surveyor (now non-practicing) he began around 2000, in conjunction with his main practice work, advising and assisting others through the mediation process.
· Civil/Commercial Mediations
· All business related issues covering any industry.
· Partnership/family financial disputes.
· Trading lease/contract disputes.
· Construction/engineering disputes – large or small.
· Client/Builder cost/quality problems.
§ Clients have included all types of business owners/management, Solicitors, home owners and family members.
§ All usually, a minimum of a full day.
· Workplace Mediations
· Resolving relationship problems between employees, from the workplace to the Boardroom - two or multi-party.
· Resolving conflicts in employee, management or director level work engagement roles.
· Resolving administration/reporting structure issues between staff.
· Also, sometimes a first alternative stage to internal procedures or tribunals.
§ Clients have included major national and regional organisations/businesses as well as small businesses.
§ Usually, a minimum of a full day.
· Community/Neighbourhood Mediations
· Smaller non-commercial disputes. For example, boundary issues and/or relationship problems/disputes between neighbours. Usually, a minimum of a half day.
· Short non-monetary related dispute. Phone consultations plus one/two hour meeting of parties, according to the appropriateness of the subject matter and complexity of the issue(s).
· Pro Bono Mediation
· Settlement of Neighbour disputes for Housing associations/Local Authorities. Active involvement with the Yorkshire Mediation charity, based near Leeds, providing free mediation services to the parties involved. See link to Yorkshire Mediation below.
Approach to Client Involvement:
· Confidentiality. Discussions between the mediator and the parties are in complete confidentiality. Confidential issues can only be revealed in a joint meeting with the permission of the party. In the case of Workplace Mediations the detail content of joint meetings is not revealed to the Referrer, only the outcome.
· Putting Parties at ease. Not all participants of mediation are used to the procedure and need to be reassured that the joint meeting will be fair, balanced and respectful.
· Empathy and careful concentration on what the parties are trying to say and achieve, within a controlled environment.
· Allowing and assisting parties to express their views about the issues to help bring closure.
· Exploring ways that the parties can find their own resolution.
· In the case of Workplace and Community mediations to consider ways that the parties can interact in the future, as colleagues or neighbours.
· In the case of Commercial issues the mediation may need a determined approach by the Mediator to bring the parties through a barrier if one, or more, of the parties are reluctant to fully engage to find a resolution. Colin Robertson brings his extensive negotiating experience to assist parties in exploring solutions that may not have been previously considered.
· Smaller, more emotional disputes. These require a slightly different approach/emphasis where the parties need reassurance about the meeting environment, its procedure and the ability to feel more at ease in reaching a resolution.
The Mediation Procedure:
· Civil/Commercial Cases
· Usually commissioned by representatives acting for the parties, one of whom will usually supply the venue, rooms and catering.
· The parties will be required to sign a contract with the Mediator to take part on an agreed date, including confidentiality clauses. It is a requirement that the Mediator’s fee will be paid within a given time before the mediation day. It is usual that this is split equally between the parties.
· The parties or their representatives will each provide a Position Statement/Case Summary within a given period of time before the day to bring the Mediator up to-date with the relevant matters of the dispute. The Mediator may choose to contact each party, by telephone, before the day to get clarification and answer any questions about the programme for the day. Again, confidentiality is paramount.
· On the day of the Joint Meeting, the Mediator will open the meeting and explain the day’s programme, including emphasising that is a voluntary procedure and its confidential nature.
· Each party or their representative will then deliver a brief opening statement, including what they would like to achieve in the day.
· Depending on each mediation, the Mediator may then retire each party and their representatives to their own dedicated room.
· The Mediator will then carry out a confidential shuttle procedure between each party to discuss the issues, possible resolutions and with the permission of each party propose offers or resolutions for the other party(s) to consider.
· A lunch break will be factored into the day’s proceedings.
· Each mediation can vary in its course of discussions and usually aims to get the parties back together in the same room to attempt a resolution by the end of the day.
· The objective of the day is to reach an agreement that is subsequently formalised into a legal contract drafted by the representatives. This is usually best resolved on the day, regardless as whether this takes longer than originally anticipated.
· Workplace Cases
· These are usually commissioned by the management or HR department of an organisation or business (the Referrer).
· The contract in these cases will be between the Referrer and the Mediator but the parties, on the day, will also be required to sign confidentiality agreements. If the Referrer cannot supply a venue, rooms and refreshments then this can be organised by the Mediator and will be added to the Mediator’s fee and costs.
· The Mediator’s fees (and costs, where applicable) will be required to be paid by the Referrer before the day of the mediation.
· On the day, the Mediator will meet the parties for the first time. They will then be extensively interviewed, individually, to allow them to express the history, the issues, their concerns and what they would like to achieve. Everything discussed in these initial interviews remains securely confidential and therefore cannot be divulged to the other party(s) or the Referrer. The parties are then asked to produce short opening statements for the Joint Meeting after which the Mediator reviews and assists each party to deliver their message with the optimum benefit of the process.
· The Joint Meeting between the parties usually then takes place after lunch to allow an uninterrupted period.
· After the opening statements, unlike Commercial Mediation, the Mediator commences a discussion based open the issues raised. The meeting could take two to three hours during which, if necessary, short breaks can be taken.
· The objective of the day is for the two parties to air their views, respectfully, and hopefully reach a written agreement, in their own words, drafted by the Mediator. The parties then sign the agreement along with the Mediator, as witness, and are each given a copy with a further copy retained to be forwarded to the Referrer, with the parties’ permission.
· Community Cases
· The initial stages are similar to Commercial Mediation in that they could be represented, including a venue, room(s) and refreshments but regardless the parties are responsible for splitting the Mediator’s fee/costs, in advance, the latter if the Mediation has to find the venue, room(s) and refreshments. They are also responsible for signing the appointment and confidentiality agreements.
· Brief details of each party(s)’ case are forwarded to the Mediator before the day allowing time for the Mediator to telephone each party to briefly discuss their case and the day’s procedure.
· Similar to Commercial Cases, on the day, the procedure starts with the Joint Meeting but then proceeds like Workplace with discussions. This, along with the drafting of an agreement or contract, could take around three to four hours.
· The secondary stage is therefore nearer to the Workplace Mediation model aiming to reach a similarly drafted agreement/contract, with copies for each party.
· The Shorter (non-monetary/neighbour disputes) Mediation is a simpler, truncated and less formal version of the Community model with all case contact restricted to the day (or brief telephone contact) with a target for a resolution/agreement in under two hours. It should be noted that both the Community and the Shorter Mediation model could be limited in their application and some issues will not be suitable for Mediation. Further guidance about this can be obtained by contacting the e-mail address below.
· Mediation is a voluntary procedure and agreement can only be achieved if all parties participate enthusiastically, but cannot be guaranteed.
Fees and Costs:
· As can be appreciated from the differing mediation models above the fees for each model can differ considerably plus the variable as to who will be supplying the venue, rooms and refreshments or catering, where applicable.
· In essence, Civil/Commercial cases attract the highest fees owing to the higher preparation time, complexity and professional input required interacting with legal representatives, which can extend to several days, including the mediation day.
· Workplace case fees are lower owing to the majority of the Mediator’s time being restricted to the day of the mediation. Where the Referrer wishes the Mediator to find the venue, rooms and refreshments then this will be reflected in the costs charged for this service.
· Community case fees are intended to reflect the relative simplicity and reduced formality of the Civil/Commercial and Workplace models and can be a very cost effective way of resolving simple but stressful disputes, particularly as, again, the fee/costs are divided between the parties. Also, if applicable, venue/room costs may be payable in the fee.
· As there isn’t a standard mediation model for any type of mediation then we suggest that the enquirer contacts the e-mail address below for a no obligation discussion.
· Originally trained and qualified as a Chartered Surveyor (now non-practicing).
· Attended Henley Business School/Brunel University as part of a Masters Degree in Business Administration programme and was awarded a MBA in 1996.
· Late 1990s, became a Member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and in 2009 completed the RICS Expert Witness course.
· Member of the Society of Construction Law.
· Committee Member of the North-East Branch of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, for several years.
· Early 2012, successfully completed the RICS Mediation Accreditation course, to become an Accredited Commercial Mediator.
· During the same period he became an Accredited Community Mediator (2012) and subsequently an Accredited Workplace Mediator (2013).
· Registered Panel Member of the Association of Northern Mediators.
· Registered Civil Mediation Council Panel Member (Civil, Commercial and Workplace).
Background (in more detail):
As a Chartered Surveyor, Colin Robertson achieved considerable negotiating experience in a wide range of industries ranging through manufacturing, construction/civil engineering, NHS, rail infrastructure, electrical, oil, petrochemical, process, electrical and power generation.
Before setting up as a sole practitioner in the early 1980s he had trained for and attained senior positions in both major cost consultants and medium-sized contractors. As a sole practitioner he worked on a huge variety of project work in which he built-up considerable experience in assembling and defending claims and their subsequent resolution. As part of this, he also advised and supported clients entering mediation both before and during the process.
The value of some of the project work ranged from settling construction disputes on accounts for sub-contractors of less than £10k to several million GBP and being part of teams on power generation project claims valued at over £200m with many other permutations in between.
Though based in the Leeds/North & West Yorkshire area he worked extensively throughout the U.K. as well as on assignments in the U.S.A, Holland, Italy, mainland Spain and projects based in Australia, Middle East and Russia.
This considerable and varied negotiating/settlement experience helped to establish his subsequent expertise and success in his chosen fields of mediation.
To set up a free/no obligation discussion of your requirements or simply advice on how to proceed with mediation, then please contact:
Henley Business School - MBA Member Profile (Colin S. Robertson)
© Colin Stewart Robertson 2009 - 2018
Last updated 1 November 2018