By Edmund Mingle
The maiden Afadjato Mediation Expedition, organised by ADR Daily, came off successfully last Saturday as more than 30 mediators, joined by other professionals stormed Afadjato, Ghana’s highest mountain.
The mission was simple; to promote the ADR mechanism of mediation by conquering the 885-metre high Afadja mountain.
It was an adventurous mediation exercise that was designed to test and enhance the mediation skills of the professionals.
The ride on the luxurious bus from Accra to Gbledi, the home of Afadjato, and the hiking to the summit of the mountain, produced interesting results and take-aways.
After a presentation on mediation, and mediation clause drafting on the bus, as well as the screening of a managerial mediation role play video, cases were distributed to volunteer mediators and parties.
The mediators were informed of the opportunity to hold their pre-meetings with the parties on the bus.
Four key lessons emerged for mediators
Lesson 1: Act Expeditiously
While some of the mediators engaged their parties for pre-meetings, others did not, thereby wasting time.
As a mediator, you have to act fast on your cases. Don’t spend all the time in the world studying and analyzing the case. You are not a judge. You are to facilitate a conversation, and leave it to the parties to produce the resolution.
Remember that parties resort to mediation because they desire an expeditious process for resolution.
Lesson 2: Effective Communication
There was evidence of inadequate communication between mediators and parties. Effective communication is vital a successful mediation. It helps to prepare parties for the mediation, and ensure early and sustainable resolution.
Lesson 3: Don’t Abandon Parties
The climb to the summit of the mountain was a matter of survival. As a result, some of the mediators abandoned their parties to survive on their own.
In the end, the mediators reached the summit only to realize that half of the parties couldn’t make it to the top. There was no mediation for those cases.
As a mediator, you are required to guide the parties to climb the theoretical conflict mountain in mediation.
You don’t leave the parties when the mediation process becomes more challenging. The mediators lost the opportunity to engage the parties by climbing together.
Chances were that if they had climbed together with conversation, the cases would have been resolved even before reaching the summit.
Lesson 4: Change venue where necessary
It was presumed that the parties had chosen the summit of Afadjato for their mediation. But the mediator has a responsibility to assess whether the venue is conducive for the exercise, and whether both parties can easily access the venue.
In this case, on realizing the challenge in reaching the summit, the mediators could have proposed a change in the venue. Mediation could have been done at any point along the climb, or even at the base of the mountain. Only secure the consent of both parties.
Remember that mediation procedure is not rigid. In practice, parties may have indicated a particular venue in their mediation clause. But if at the time of the dispute, that venue is not conducive or cannot be reached by any party, the mediator can propose a change in venue.
The parties can also agree on a different venue and inform the mediator.
Mediation doesn’t fail !