Remote mediations in wills & trusts, real estate and commercial disputes

22nd April 2020

Members of St John’s Chambers’ Wills & Trusts, Real Estate and Commercial teams continue to offer the full range of mediation services during the COVID-19 Lockdown through the use of the Zoom Pro video conferencing platform. This allows the mediation to take place remotely, with the mediator being able to move between virtual rooms where individuals can communicate in complete privacy, knowing that confidentiality is being maintained. The mediator can arrange different groupings to join together in virtual ‘breakout’ rooms to interact almost as they would at a conventional mediation. All the main advantages of mediation can be retained and the process has proved its worth.

Participants can join through clicking on a website link, without even having to download the Zoom software. A trial run through of the communications links the day before ensures that any possible IT glitch is resolved before the mediation starts. In addition to the mediator being able to put persons together, individual sets of participants are able, if they wish, to set up their own WhatsApp or email / text lines of communication.

St John’s Chambers’ mediators are confident that clients will be pleased with the remote mediation process. A lot of travel time and expense is saved and there is a good prospect that a settlement can be reached sooner. Our mediators appreciate that this requires a certain leap of faith to continue with the mediation process using virtual meetings rather than waiting for the end of social distancing. There is flexibility on fees and as ever the clerks at St John’s Chambers invite a frank discussion in this regard. Certain mediators are sufficiently confident in the remote mediation process that their fee for a virtual mediation includes having a separate attended mediation on the same dispute at a later date (when social distancing is over) if any participant regards the process as not having met their requirements.

The change in working practices being forced upon all of us, is an opportunity to consider new ways of tackling existing challenges. In terms of Alternative Dispute Resolution, participants may wish in place of mediation to try Early Neutral Evaluation. This is a process under which a joint instruction is made by the participants to an experienced barrister at St John’s Chambers, who you will select as a specialist in the area of the dispute, to produce a non-binding opinion on the likely outcome at trial. This is a powerful aid towards settlement.

For more details, or to book counsel, please contact our clerks, whose details can be found here: