When I trained to become a mediator in 2000, mediation was regarded as the answer to lengthy delays and rocketing costs in the civil justice system but it has recently begun to acquire a bad name. The process has become expensive with the result that it sometimes hinders rather than facilitates a just resolution of a result.
One of the things I was told during my training that a good mediator can settle any kind of dispute irrespective of the subject matter of the dispute. Much the sort of guff as used to be spouted by generations of Rumpoles on advocacy. The notion of the all rounder able to turn his or her hand to any kind of case was never true of advocacy and I very much doubt that it is true of mediation.
I have often felt the need for a specialist mediation service with panellists who understand licensing and know how to value intellectual assets as well as being familiar with IP law and practice. Of course, no single practitioner is likely to have all those skills. Patent counsel should know about litigation and the law generally but we have little experience of licence negotiation and none at all of royalty valuation. Similarly, transactional lawyers who are good at establishing science parks or negotiating collaboration agreements between universities are unlikely to have much experienced of the Patents Court or know how to handle a hearing officer. The ideal mediation service would therefore consist of panellists from a number of professions. At least one advocate, of course, because it is only through advocacy that one can understand judicial thinking and hence how a judge will apply the law to a new situation. But there should also be someone who has negotiated and drafted licences, joint venturers and outsourcing agreements not to mention a forensic accountant.
I discussed this two of my friends, Eileen McMorrow of YorSolicitor and Michael Swift of Bennett Brooks. We have decided to work as a team and have set up a specialist intellectual property and technology dispute resolution service to be called NIPC Mediation.
We already have a website at www.nipc-mediation.co.uk where we describe the diverse expertise of our panelists as our principal advantage. We provide not just mediation but also other dispute resolution services such as expert determination and early neutral evaluation. Also we offer seminars on mediation and other forms of dispute resolution of IP issues. Our first will take place at Bennett Brooks' new premises at Gateway House, Wirral International Business Park, Old Hall Road, Bromborough, CH62 2NX and you can register your interest by completing the on-line form. We charge two sets of fees: one set for administration and another for the panellist. My rates appear om my section of the website. If you visit that site you will find some articles by me about dispute resolutionn, ADR and so on. There are also some case notes on how I resolved trade mark oppositions and computer supply disputes.
If you want to refer a dispute to mediation please complete one of the on-line enquiry forms. Perhaps more urgently. we are looking to supplement. consolidate and diversify our skill set and are hence recruiting more panellists. If you are qualified as a mediator, have experience of any area of technology law and share our mission we'd like to hear from you. Maybe you would wish to complete the on-line form.