Learning & events

PDG event | Mediation and the grieving process

with Ruth Beach

Thursday 31 October 2019 | Adelaide

Parties to a dispute are caught in the midst of a conflict. This goes without saying.

However, the parties do not 'live the dispute' in isolation. While the dispute is running, parties are in the midst of their lives - working, bringing up children, looking after family members, catching up with friends. Of course, parties to a dispute are also instructing solicitors, responding to the other party and the court's requirements and planning their case.

In addition to these responsibilities parties are often suffering emotional trauma. Usually, in the first instance, the parties had an expectation as to how the issues in dispute would turn out. It goes without saying, that by the time of the mediation, things haven't happened as planned. Parties may be angry at the other side, third parties and themselves; they may be disappointed at how things have panned out; they may be in denial that the dispute is even occurring and at some stage they may well accept the circumstances of the dispute.

In the 1970s, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross set out 5 stages of the grieving process. There are many other theories on this grieving process and they typically relate to loss when a loved one has died. However, given the expectations around a dispute parties too have suffered a loss and unwittingly find themselves in a 'grieving process'.

These feelings of loss can be intense where important personal relationships are at stake or where there's a business or other personal loss. This grieving process exists whether the dispute is at a local, national or international level.

Given these circumstances of grief, how can the mediation be best conducted to assist the parties to find resolution? What tools can be utilised by the mediator to assist the parties find a resolution in the circumstances of their grief and loss?

This presentation will explore the grief that parties may be suffering as it's often in relating to and hearing a parties' suffering that the parties can let go of the past and better examine options for resolution. The presentation will also examine the tools a mediator can utilise to assist the parties find resolution with the other party or within themselves.

About the presenter

Ruth Beach

Ruth is the Manager of the Mediation Unit at the Magistrates Court in South Australia. In that role she conducts many mediations on a day to day basis, supervises numerous panels of mediators and conducts professional development seminars for court mediators.

Ruth has been a nationally accredited mediator since 2013 and has more than 25 years' experience as a dispute resolution lawyer. She's passionate about assisting people resolve their disputes in a timely manner taking into consideration the reality of the situation.

Ruth is also accredited as a Family Dispute Resolution practitioner and has been a facilitator for a restorative justice process assisting abused persons. As a mediator, Ruth has undertaken work on behalf of private clients and as a member of eight mediation panels relating to workplace concerns, commercial issues and insurance matters.

On a volunteer basis, she is a member of the South Australian Law Society's Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee and has led the Resolution Institute Chapter in South Australia for the last 2 years and been a committee member for many years. She has volunteered in the Magistrates Court pre-action pro bono mediation scheme and established the Mediation Information Service in that Court. She has also presented papers on many mediation topics to mediators, lawyers, the public and students on many occasions.

In her legal practice, Ruth has represented clients from all walks of life to resolve disputes in many areas including commercial, environmental and planning and employment matters. Her practice has included working with Aboriginal people for many years.

Her legal experience includes 5 years as a public interest environmental lawyer at the Environmental Defenders Office and 20 years in her own practice and small and large law firms where as a litigator she resolved disputes with commercial, industrial and estate issues.

Thanks to Belperio Clark Lawyers for generously supporting this event.