• Thursday, October 17, 2019

Mediation Skills Course
by perakbar

Dates: 07/02/09-11/02/09

Venue: Heritage Hotel

Course leaders: Salli Browning & Bianca Keys (The Accord Group,Australia)

I signed up for the mediation skills course upon my father’s gentle persuasion. However, I was initially hesitant because of the thought of being the youngest participant in the room. Also, my status as a lowly chambee would be immediately noticeable. Nevertheless, I packed up my bags and set off to start the first day. Upon arrival, it was interesting to note that most or all the participants were slightly uncomfortable and nervous as to what to expect. We had a mix of participants consisting of judges, lawyers and even a medical specialist. At this point, I believe we were all wondering as to what we had gotten ourselves into. What was this strange creature called mediation? After all, was it not our ‘friend’ litigation that had been standing with us through thick and thin?



The course consisted of lectures, role-play sessions and discussions. Lectures were a useful tool in teaching us about the different stages in mediation i.e. opening statements, agenda setting, understanding stage, agreement stage etc. Role-play sessions meant that each person was allocated a role either as one of the disputants or as mediator.




There were some who took to their role-plays like a duck to water while others took some time to warm up. However, by the third day, everyone had loosened up and embraced their roles wholeheartedly. There were certainly Hollywood actors and actresses in the making. Interestingly enough we had our own version of the Oscar award, which was named Toscar and it was awarded to the person who in our opinion acted most realistically in their role plays. *drumrolls* Toscar was awarded to Mr F.N. Yoong who is by profession a medical specialist. Who knew that doctors could be good actors? In relation to discussions and debriefing of our role-plays, our course leaders were excellent teachers who were always eager to answer any questions we had. They made certain that any queries and concerns were addressed. In addition, our local coaches were a great help especially in providing constructive feedback. They were supportive of us all throughout the course.





Also from these role-play sessions, we quickly learnt that our role as a mediator is to facilitate the mediation process and to help the parties find a mutually acceptable solution to their dispute. However, the difficult part in achieving the above is that we are not allowed to advise the parties. What does that mean? It seemed such a foreign concept for us lawyers. Admittedly we were tempted to advise the parties during our mediation sessions but had to quickly bite our tongue. If we lawyers found it difficult, what more for the members of the bench who in their roles as mediators had to resist the urge to give orders to the parties and expect them to obey. In addition, contrary to what others might think, the course was not all gloom and doom and if anything was the complete opposite. The days were always injected with smiles and laughter. Yes it was definitely a lot of hard work; we had the dreaded assessment on the very last day. However, I believe everyone involved had a great time in learning new skills and how to apply them. I know I did. Furthermore, I felt welcomed by everyone and had no trouble interacting with senior practitioners and members of the judiciary. It was indeed an eye-opening experience. Therefore, I encourage anyone who is interested in mediation to seriously consider participating in the next mediation skills course. It will be well worth your money and time.



At the end of the course, we are proud to say that mediation is no longer a stranger to us. We now know that mediation is a viable and often a better alternative to litigation. Indeed, in many circumstances, mediation can help preserve relationships and save both parties the expense, time and stress of going to court. Also, compared to litigation, mediation is quick, private, fair and less expensive. Hopefully, the public shall be made more aware of the possibility of using mediation as a tool to settle disputes. In doing so, this should reduce the backlog of cases in courts. All in all, I believe that we are heading towards the right direction. Of course as with anything, it requires practice and experience. No one can really expect any of us to come out from this forty hour course as perfect mediators. However, what they can expect us to come out with is this: we now have the necessary skills and understanding to equip us in our quest to become exceptional mediators. We shall persevere.



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Posted at:
February 12th 2009



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