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Moving on

Dear readers

You’ll have noted a seriously diminished flow of writing on this site in recent times, as I moved over to a regular blogging spot on the Kluwer Mediation Blog. Now that I have shifted back from Singapore to New Zealand, I have less immediate access to the life and world of mediation in Singapore (in particular) and Asia (in general), though no less interest in developments there. For that reason, I will be closing down this blog.

However, I retain the intellectual property – for the time being – in the title and name “MediAsian”. I am aware that the term has acquired some currency in various publications in Singapore, which I’m happy about. And what I’d now like to do is see whether any individuals, organisations, or institutions are interested in taking over – that is acquiring – the name.

If you are, write to me at ianmacduff@mac.com

Thank you for your previous visits to this site



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The Global Pound Conference [GPC] series has now been officially launched and you are invited to attend on of the forthcoming 36 planned meetings in 26 countries.

What is the series? This is an initiative of the International Mediation Institute (IMI) in The Hague, taking its name from Professor Roscoe Pound, former Dean of Harvard Law School, and reflecting the first conference, 40 years ago, that effectively launched the modern ADR “movement”.

The aim of the GPC series is to bring together providers and users of [broadly] non-judicial dispute processes, along with academics, government agencies, policy makers, mediators for a conversation . . . as the web site says:

The goal of the Global Pound Conference (“GPC”) Series is to create a conversation about what can be done to improve access to justice and the quality of justice around the world in civil and commercial conflicts.  The approach taken involves engaging all stakeholders in the field of dispute prevention and resolution worldwide via locally-based events.  The events will gather data intended to enable the dispute resolution market and all participants to consider whether there are reasons (and if so how) to adapt existing services to be optimally aligned to disputants’ needs and means.

The first of the planned series (following a pilot in London last year) will take place in Singapore in March 2016.

For information about the series, see: http://www.globalpoundconference.org and http://w3.kenes-group.com/mailshot/congress/GPC/ms1.html

And on the Singapore event, see: http://singapore2016.globalpoundconference.org

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It’s been quiet over here on this blog for some time: these days I’m usually to be seen over at the Kluwer Mediation blog. However, in case there is anyone who occasionally checks in on this site, I also recommend that you check here:


These academies in arbitration and mediation have been running for over decade (slightly less for the mediation academy) and provide a unique experiment in running parallel sessions in the two forms of private dispute resolution, dealing with the same set of facts of a commercial deal that has gone sour. The final day sees the arbitration and mediation groups brought together to compare notes and outcomes.

The links to comments on the academies’ website will give you an idea of what participants have thought of previous years’ experience.

While both academies are pitched as good entry-points for aspiring arbitrators and mediators, we’ve seen a considerable range in age and experience, so it’s not entirely a young persons’ event.

I do recommend these academies (with the obvious disclaimer, as I’ve been on the teaching faculty of the mediation programme for the past few years).

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From the Centre for Dispute Resolution at SMU:


It is with great pleasure that we invite you to the 2nd Singapore Mediation Lecture.

The Singapore Mediation Lecture series aims to enhance the understanding and use of mediation in resolving cross-border commercial disputes.

Our distinguished speaker, The Right Honourable the Lord Woolf will speak on “Mediation: The Way Forward.”

Lord Woolf has been at the forefront of the development and mainstream acceptance of mediation as the preferred way to deal with disputes. His name is particularly associated with the promotion of access to justice, not only through the improvement of access to conventional legal services, but also through encouraging the pursuit of alternatives to litigation.

Lord Woolf’s lecture will deal with why mediation is the way forward, and the factors that have been holding it back. In particular, the lecture will deal with training and standards of mediators, and the role of lawyers as gatekeepers of dispute resolution processes. It will also touch on compulsory mediation, med-arb, and role of mediation from the perspective of the client. Lord Woolf will also consider the prospects for the further development of mediation in Singapore and the neighbouring region.

The Singapore Mediation Lecture is proudly brought to you by Harry Elias Partnership LLP and Singapore Mediation Centre, in collaboration with the Singapore Management University.

For registration: https://www.regonline.com/Register/Checkin.aspx?EventID=1272890

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“A just-released study of dispute resolution practices in Fortune 1,000 corporations shows that many large companies are using binding arbitration — adjudication with private judges — less often and relying more on mediated negotiation and other approaches aimed at getting disputes settled more informally, quickly and inexpensively.”

See: http://www.law.com/jsp/nlj/PubArticleNLJ.jsp?id=1202593174039&Businesses_and_conflict_Its_all_about_control&goback=%2Egde_2539171_member_225628616&slreturn=20130225091639 

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The International Chamber of Commerce is currently looking for two interns who would like to join the Organizing Committee in September to prepare the 2014 Mediation Week. 

When:                  2 September 2013 – 14 March 2014
Where:                 At ICC’s headquarters in Paris, France. 

Information can also be found online.

 Application ends: 30 April 2013!


Angela Herberholz

Project Manager

ICC Dispute Resolution Services

International Centre for ADR

38 Cours Albert 1er
75008 Paris

Tel.: + 33 1 49 53 33 59
Fax: + 33 1 49 53 30 49

38 Cours Albert 1er
75008 Paris

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A couple of years ago, I wrote in a chapter in a book on An Asian Perspective on Mediation, that:

What these comparative, communicative and cognitive analyses indicate is that patterns of social relationships and the shared experience and memory of common histories will have an impact on disputants’ modes of perceiving and addressing conflicts. In a sense, the empirical work serves to confirm the experience that many will have had in communication across cultures, though that experience is more likely to have led to frustrations with the logic and priorities of the negotiation counterpart. In particular, as these differences rest on the weight given to relationships, it will seem – to Western negotiators, and in Western mediation – that at times “face” and “facts” come into conflict, and that the communication tools used to preserve face – indirectness, vagueness – compete directly with the pursuit of facts.[1] Conversely, Asian negotiators or mediators will observe that the Western pursuit of “facts” or the literal truth seems abrasive and ignorant of the importance of pursuing a “public” truth that will preserve relationships.

“Contradiction and Conflict – High- and Low-Context Communication in Mediation”  in  Teh Hwee-Hwee & Joel Lee (eds), in An Asian Model of Mediation (Academy Publishing, Singapore, 2009)
A couple of incidents or conversations involving interpretations of the “truth” still puzzle me after doing the thinking involved in this and other writing on intercultural communication, and after quite a proportion of my life living in parts of Asia. The issue here is expressly not about lies – I think that adds a judgmental element that is not right here. But it is about competing interpretations of what it is I might want to hear.
One observation comes from a colleague of mine at Singapore Management University in a faculty seminar on seeking to create the classroom ethos in which student arrived on time, were “present” while in the classroom (absence via Facebook is an increasingly common cause of despair). His simple comment: while I do mind that students arrive late, what matters more is the “bullshit” that accompanies the lateness – usually excuses about failed battery alarms, the rain (it always rain in Singapore), the traffic (the traffic is always heavy here) . . . and so on. The simple recognition that they were late, an apology, would do perfectly fine – but not the evasion.
But . . . is this a part of what I note above, that facts and face come into conflict and where that happens, face takes precedence?
The other more recent example arose from the fact that the apartment we live in has been on the market, and every weekend the owner’s agent has brought potential buyers along with the viewers’ agents. There were meant to be more viewers this past weekend, mid-afternoon, but the agent turned up (generously, with a bottle of wine!) to say that the viewers had cancelled the appointment. As it happened, there was a Deepavali (Festival of Light) party at the condo that same evening and an agent who had recently accompanied a couple came up to tell me that the apartment had sold that morning. Now, all parties will have known this – so my puzzle is, why didn’t the owner’s agent simply say it had been sold? Face vs. facts again?
The talk of “truth” in such cases is, perhaps, to add a moral loading that isn’t right; but you can see where the puzzle arises and why it’s easy to fall into judgment, either:
  1. because one party appears to be “evasive” or is simply parsimonious with facts; or
  2. the other is too blunt, too direct

[1] ibid, p. 113

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