Zooming into the future – fixing family disputes during Covid and beyond

As the coronavirus rules tighten again in the UK, I thought it worth sharing some experience of mediation during lockdown and why I think remote mediations on zoom are here to stay.

Whilst a few clients have struggled to get zoom going first time, the vast majority have found it straightforward to launch and easy to use once up.

Some of the familiar conventions are changing. When I cast my mind back to co-located mediations before lockdown, the first concern was whether the rooms were ok and the coffee decent enough. Nowadays it’s generally about whether we can see and hear each other properly and making sure the door is closed to keep the children/dog out (both theirs and mine).

And as soon as that’s done, I’ve found that people are able to treat a zoom call as a proper conversation – which is what we all want.

It may come as a surprise to people that a joint meeting – with everyone in the same room at the same time – can easily be hosted on zoom. Zoom gives the host rather more power to mute people than we ever had in a physical meeting!

Zoom enables you to create private breakout rooms for different parties. We mediators can move between those rooms easily and have confidential discussions there.

And if the parties wish to talk to each other then that’s easily arranged.

And it’s possible for settlement agreements to be drafted before people’s eyes with the share screen function.

I must admit that before 2020 I had reservations about remote mediation.

I felt that being in the same room as each other changes the way people see the dispute.

And I was also concerned that it would be hard for me to really communicate properly with clients.

But I’ve been proved wrong.

Attending mediation where the other side is virtually present still has a huge impact on the way the people involved see the dispute.

In the disputes that I deal with, the parties are almost never strangers but have grown apart because of the dispute.

Coming together at a mediation to work to find a solution and seeing the other person in that context has an enormous impact.

And I was just wrong about the communication quality.

Clients say – and I find – “we forget about the screens”. They feel they are having a real conversation with a real person in real time.

Whatever we thought before, remote mediation works and it is here to stay.

And that’s a very good thing because zoom calls are quicker and easier to arrange. There is a correlation between how quickly a mediation takes place and its success.

People often find it hard to make time for their personal affairs especially when those personal affairs are contentious; work and children come first leaving very little time left over. The flexibility zoom offers means we can get you at the best possible moment in an environment that works for you.Prefix Mediation focuses on disputes within families – whether they’re commercial, property, inheritance or matrimonial. We provide hands-on mediation services working with everyone involved to prevent a problem becoming a legal case.

Please feel free to call to discuss things with one of our mediators. Get in touch to see whether we can help.

The safe new way to solve a problem before it becomes a case.