Ever since I was a young lawyer in London back in the eighties I have always felt there had to be a better way to solve legal disputes than that provided by our current legal systems. The position becomes even more dire when you take it into the area of cross border litigation, which I practised; where cultures, languages and legal systems collide. All this, at the expense of an emotional, frustrated and often very angry client. As a young lawyer it was great fun, to almost play games with differing laws at the expense of an unwitting opponent. However this is not justice.
That was partly why my parliamentary life in the European Parliament was largely devoted to issues of cross border access to justice, amongst them particularly ‘mediation’. Here I believe is a tool that can provide real justice, which the parties can help facilitate themselves and finally take ownership of. Today, instead of fearing a more litigious society we should putting in place the possibilities to achieve just outcomes in a different way.
It does not end there. Of course mediation has its central role in the area of justice, but it is also a processthat has much to teach us in political life, especially in times of crisis. I have always had an allergy to our adversarial form of politics at Westminster and I believe that mediation has its place in the democratic process too. In our contemporary world we increasingly appreciate that arguments are not always right or wrong, that people and politicians have to take responsibility together, a mediation approach can facilitate that.
I am incredibly excited to be joining the very experienced group of people who make up the International Mediation Institute and I look forward to being able to remain an advocate on behalf of mediation.