Law Matters: Finding the Right Mediator in the Netherlands
When I studied at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, in 1996, one of the most interesting courses was 'Alternative Dispute Resolution'. At the time Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela, and many other people were desperately trying to prevent civil war in South Africa. The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was set up to help resolve what happened under apartheid.
As former South African Justice Minister Mr. Dullah Omar, said, '[A] commission is a necessary exercise to enable South Africans to come to terms with their past on a morally accepted basis and to advance the cause of reconciliation.
I witnessed how my fellow students diligently followed the work of the TRC. It was the best way to learn that there are ways to solve a conflict other than arguing in court.
Now, ten years later, The Netherlands is also starting to recognize that mediation is a very useful tool to solve conflicts. Mediation is used at all levels. It is used internationally and locally. It is used in political conflicts, business conflicts and in personal conflicts.
Mediation enables parties to create their own solution, together. The discussions are confidential. Only the results, once laid down in a signed agreement, can be used in court. Once parties realise this, they also realise they can talk freely. The discussions change from fighting about a problem into talking about a solution. For both the short term and long term, the solution suits parties much better than any judgment would. Further, mediation can be cheaper and faster than court proceedings.
At this time, more and more people are presenting themselves as mediators. There are psychologists, lawyers, human resource officers, politicians, and others working as mediators. How can you find the mediator who suits your situation?
There are websites that can serve as a starting point in your search:
www.nmi-mediation.nl (general site)
www.vfas.nl (family law)
www.acbmediation.nl (business conflicts)
These sites have listed mediators who have followed proper training and who are experienced.
Further, it is a good method to ask someone working in the relevant field (e.g., a family lawyer if you are contemplating a divorce) whether he can recommend a mediator.
I also recommend that both parties get a first impression of a potential mediator by telephone. This way, you can avoid setting up a meeting with a mediator who is not experienced or does not fit the problem for other reasons.
Being both a lawyer and a mediator, I know some conflicts cannot be solved through mediation. There will always be work for lawyers in court. Should you question whether mediation could suit your conflict, do not hesitate to contact me to discuss the possibilities.
Antoine de Werd (070 3615048) firstname.lastname@example.org
GMW Attorneys at Law
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