The advantages of mediation include the preservation of relationships and creating a solution that will be beneficial to both sides, resulting in a win-win situation. Timing is also of the essence. The earlier mediation is conducted, before views get entrenched, the more likely it is for reaching an amicable settlement, thereby preventing differences from getting into a dispute that might end up in court or arbitration. It is for that reason that the Department of Justice (DoJ) has been promoting the “Mediate First” Pledge since 2009 and now with some 700 pledgees from around the world. Being a brand of Hong Kong, “Mediate First” events have been conducted in Shanghai, Shenzhen, etc, and on May 28, we held the “Mediate First, Anchoring the Future” webinar, which discussed three areas in which mediation has a pivotal role in avoiding and resolving differences.
Using mediation in resolving disputes in private wealth and asset management is a relatively new area. Family offices and wealth management services have grown exponentially in Hong Kong, usually involving family wealth being managed for family purposes. If and when disputes arise between members of the family, trustees and beneficiaries, it is much more sensible for mediation to be used as an amicable and confidential resolution mechanism, where each family member can voice out their underlying issues and concerns in the process. Family members from different generations can acknowledge the views and needs of each other and work out a mutually agreeable roadmap together. Resolving disputes amicably lays a solid foundation for the smooth operation of the family business in the long run.
Mediation techniques are in particular suitable for clinical services in order to avoid disputes. The feelings and emotions experienced by healthcare practitioners, patients and their family in the clinical setting may easily cause conflicts or misunderstandings. By using mediation skills, mutual understanding and communication will be enhanced. Disputes between medical staff and patients can also be resolved through a third party by means of mediation. Further, the Apology Ordinance, which came into effect in 2017, allows medical practitioners to express their sympathies or apologies to patients without concerns of admitting liabilities on their part. This helps prevent medical disputes from escalating.
Additionally, mediation plays a key role in resolving employees’ compensation claims. It can address the disputes involving work injuries in a more humane and sensitive manner, thereby preserving the employer-employee relationship whilst saving costs and time as compared to litigating the claim. The Legal Aid Department is supportive of the use of mediation in legally aided cases, and seeing that mediation can assist all parties to reach a mutually agreeable outcome, we will continue our efforts to promote “Mediate First” in this area.
Last but not least, I would like to extend my congratulations to the 34 “Mediate First Pledge Star Logo” awardees for their active involvement in this meaningful campaign. As we have covered how to “Unlock the Potentials” of mediation in the “Mediate First” Pledge event in 2019, we hope that the event this year can “Anchor the Future” and set the scene for the rapid development of mediation. We will continue to roll out various initiatives to capitalise on the benefits and advantages that mediation can bring to the table.
June 6, 2021