Contributor Spotlight: CEDR

DRD is pleased to have the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution as a data contributor. For this interview, we spoke with Graham Massie, Chief Operating Officer, to hear his thoughts on his institution and being a data contributor.

Tell me a bit about your background (including, but not limited to: How did you get involved in dispute resolution? Why dispute resolution, and what do you see as the importance of dispute resolution?) 

I come from a business and financial background rather than a legal one.  Initially trained as a Chartered Accountant, I worked with KPMG in the UK and USA for many years before falling into dispute resolution by accident.  CEDR was initially introduced to me as a client of my accounting firm, but I very quickly got sucked into this far more interesting field, so I gave up tax text books and became a full-time dispute resolution professional some 20 years ago.  I am now CEDR’s Chief Operating Officer, so I still run its finances, but most of my time is spent on client work.  As a mediator, my professional background means that I mainly handle cases that involve a lot of numbers, not just in dispute contexts, but also in deal-mediation, helping parties negotiate future commercial arrangements.       

Tell me about your institution. What types of cases do you handle, what are your institutional priorities, what do you specialize in, etc. 

CEDR has been a key player in the international dispute resolution landscape for over 25 years.  Based in London, our original focus was on the development of commercial mediation as an effective alternative to costly litigation.  This goal has been achieved, and mediation is now well established in the mainstream of dispute resolution in England and Wales.  CEDR has become a leading provider of commercial mediation services both in London and around the world through our global panel of leading mediators.

CEDR’s internationally renowned Mediator Skills Training and Accreditation Programmes are also delivered throughout the world, as are our development consultancy services.  In addition, recognising that as mediators we are privileged to see both sides of every negotiation, we have developed an extensive suite of advanced negotiation and conflict management training programmes.  Many of these are based upon our view that the mediation skillset is one that all senior managers and leaders should have within their toolkit.

How did you become familiar with DRD?

CEDR’s friendship with Bill Slate goes back to his days at AAA when we were fellow travellers beating the drum for more effective dispute resolution.  We both recognised long ago the importance of gathering and reporting reliable data to inform the field, and for many years I have researched and published CEDR’s biennial Mediation Audit, now in its seventh edition.  Bill’s initiative to establish DRD as the first truly global data platform is a crucially important endeavour, and we wish the project well.    

What do you see as the benefit of being a DRD data contributor? 

CEDR is proud simply to be a contributor to the DRD project.   As a non-profit, our mission is to promote further take-up of effective dispute resolution approaches, and we firmly believe that the wider circulation of reliable data about usage will provide reassurance to parties and their advisers about the efficacy of such processes, as well as provide researchers with more insights into the workings of what remain essentially private processes.   

Can you think of any specific examples in the past when your institution might have benefited from the data being offered now by DRD?

A major part of CEDR’s international work involves working with other jurisdictions to assist them in learning from the UK’s success in developing commercial mediation.  In recent years we have supported fledgling mediation centres in Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, Morocco, Egypt, Lebanon, Pakistan and Mongolia. In each instance, as well as supporting them, CEDR helped develop their capacity by training an initial cadre of mediators to CEDR’s international accreditation standard and provided extensive operational and marketing guidance including, in particular, emphasising the need for them to publish compelling success stories and proof points about the value that mediation can bring.  Generating demand is far harder than building capacity, and the data available from DRD should provide a very valuable additional resource to support both CEDR’s and our local partners’ efforts to encourage lawyers, businesspeople and the judiciary to explore what more effective dispute resolution techniques have to offer.