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Dogs Mediation

Lord Neuberger, President of the Supreme Court said last week that we should be uninhibited about more mediation in civil and family matters.

While stopping short of calling for compulsory mediation for all, his views suggest a judiciary which is starting to recognise the success story which is mediation. Lower costs, more flexible outcomes and quicker resolution of disputes are just some of the advantages over traditional litigation.

Litigation has its place, of course and some cases will not be successfully mediated but the law and our court system provides a sledgehammer to crack a nut for the vast number of disputes which fall within the bracket where the claim is worth between £50,000 and, say £1-5 million.

Add to that last month’s swingeing increase in court fees and you have powerful reasons to consider mediation at the right stage of the dispute.

With the speed of the fanatic, the Government has confirmed a massive rise in the cost of civil litigation with effect from next Monday March 9th, rather earlier than originally announced.

According to the Law Society, whose table is reproduced below, some civil court fees will rise by 622% and even the smallest increase is 64% so that a claimant bringing a money claim valued at £20000 must now find £1000 in order to issue proceedings.

Access to Justice this is not!

I feel sure that when Lord Woolf published “Access to Justice” he did not have in mind a draconian increase in fees the effect of which is to drive all but the richest litigants from the courts. It goes to show that not everything can be reduced to mere numbers by the bean counters in our society.

While some advisers have been hurrying to beat the rises by issuing proceedings this week, the remainder will have to put up with it.

Of course, they could opt for mediation or other forms of dispute resolution. I doubt that was what the Government had in mind but it may be a blessing in disguise for litigants and mediators alike.

Value of claim £      Fee now £ (paper)         New fee £          £ Increase in fee

20,000                       610                                     1,000                     390
40,000                       610                                     2,000                     1,390
90,000                       910                                     4,500                     3,590
150,000                     1,315                                   7,500                    6,185
190,000                     1,315                                   9,500                    8,185
200,000                     1,515                                  10,000                  8,725
250,000                     1,720                                 10,000                   8,280

Charles Holloway – 6th March 2015

Group Parenthesis medium with photos

We have just opened bookings for Parenthesis in April and June 2015 and all the details are here 

At the time of writing April is filling up quickly. If you are interested speak to me asap.

Hilary – February 9th 2015

Hilary’s book – The Power of Soft – has now been funded.

It’ll be out in the Autumn and in the meantime you can still pledge for it (the fastest way to get a copy) and get your name in the book by going to the publishers – unbound – at the attached link.

All the details about the book – including a short video – are on the unbound website.

The book develops and incorporates Hilary’s “Strong Core” approach. It also includes the “NEAR” model (a development of the “4Ps” mentioned at unbound) and a lot more.


Taking big decisions is tough. I recently had to make some tough choices and the process made me think about what a decision is and why taking that decision can be so difficult.

The word “decision” seems to come from the latin “decisio” and the verb “decider” which is the action of cutting off. “De” is off and “Caedere” to cut. Once again the origins of language reveal a truth. To decide we have to cut something off. That involves facing loss. One thing we modern folk really hate is loss. Acquiring the thing is the easy bit, getting rid of it once we have it can be really hard. That is also the problem with so many of our so called corporate strategies. If they don’t say no to a few things; things that we aren’t going to do any more, they are probably not good strategy, we are just hedging our bets.

So, making a decision means thinking through the options of the various losses involved. Which gain do you most need and which loss can you make? Which cut of jeans feels like it’s right for you? and – what the hell – the others sure aren’t you so you might as well try it!

Hilary – 5th November 2014


I’ve just been at a talk by Robert Cialdini and Steve Martin about the science of persuasion.

One of the things suggested was that persuasion needs to be given more power and maybe even a role in organisations. If it’s a proven fact that we can get more people to change their behaviour with a bit of gentle encouragement then why don’t we invest more into it? If hotels can get more people to re-use their towels by a few well worded interventions, why not do more of it elsewhere? After all, there was the Government “nudge” unit and having a persuasion champion in organisations is an interesting idea.

In discussion afterwards we surfaced a reason why we were uncomfortable with this. It’s because it’s just too easy. There is no real re-invention of the service and there is no genuine attempt to really improve the customer experience. It’s a unilateral thing and even in the examples given we’d seen, a multi-lateral approach worked better. If we did this just for the organisation, we’d be doing it just to improve our rate of return as a provider. If we change the way the form is written just to get a higher take-up that is great but the benefit accrues unilaterally. That is interesting for a while but it misses the real opportunity.

If instead, we could use the skills we have to improve the experience overall, wouldn’t that be the thing that was really interesting?We should involve people more and work together to an entirely better answer. Our challenge should be to co-create better solutions – both internally with the organisations people and externally with its customers.

So I’m not for the Chief Persuasion Officer but I am for the Chief Customer Officer and the Chief People Officer – as champions to do just this.

Hilary – 18th September 2014


The telecommunications company, Arqiva held a event yesterday that had an inspirational effect on me.

What Arqiva’s did was to get their L&D suppliers together in a room and talk openly about what they are doing. This means that we all now understand the leadership model they are working to, how they use strengths in developing their people and exactly what their priorities for this year are. I also got to meet a range of suppliers, all of whom had an interest in helping Arqiva achieve their long-term plan.

This is an approach that I’d like to be doing more with customers. Being more open and working together towards clear shared goals is something we would all applaud but its something that is rarely done. If the customer organisation sets the tone of trust and openness then its much easier for suppliers to pick up on that lead and to start to share and collaborate more. Talking to other suppliers I realised it wasn’t just me that got the buzz. Like those we are employed to coach, we were starting to think about how we could best add our own strengths into the overall picture.

We also noticed that the organisation that invited us is not called Human Resources any more. It’s called “People and Organisation”. I like that change also.

Hilary – 16th September 2014


This is confession time. For a while now, something in me has not wanted to prepare too heavily for workshops. I tend to prepare an outline and then tear up the plan. That is obviously a  risk and, yes, sometimes it feels uncomfortable; to me at least.

The thing is, it works. It works because when you have the right audience at the right time, people ask the questions they are struggling with. They pull at the answers and we have a discussion. More comes out; it is pulled out, rather than pushed. Rather than an answer, pushing out for an unasked question, we find a question coming forth, pulling at an answer. Maybe someone in the room has a different perspective. In response to the request, we share stories. We have a laugh. We learn. We learn because we have questions we want answers to. We collaborate to find them.

I know instinctively, that pushing at learning requires both muscles and a piston of steel. To push you need not only force but also the will for that force to come from the centre. This does not sit well with me. As the learner, pulling at what you need, when you want it, not only requires less force, it it also self-enabled, and it sticks.

Just like tug of war, we do need a bit of basic structure. Once that is in place all that is then required is a good, strong pull.

Hilary – 21 July 2014



Rob and Hilary ran the first Group Parenthesis at the end of June, in Spain. The next one is on 9th-12th October.

There were six participants last time: three men, three women, three at Partner or Director level from large organisations and three in freelance careers at various stages of transition. All had questions they wanted to answer about what was next in their working lives. Over three days, we worked with the natural beauty of La Serna to create an environment where they could take the time they needed to do this. The diversity of the group really helped and some strong bonds were formed. We had top quality food from our chef Fidel and are planning follow-ups back in London with the group.

It was a unique experience and the participants have told us we must repeat it for others. So we will. Our plan is to aim at doing two a year. The next one is planned for October 2014 with another likely in springtime 2015. Once again, there will only be six places and we would like to attract a diverse range of participants who are at the right time for this opportunity.

Here are more details and here is what Rob says about it.



Hilary is going to be at LawFest 2014 with Steve Chapman and Kay Scorah.

The Plural team are going to be doing some improv in plenary and running some conflict and creativity workshops.

The inaugural LawFest is shaping up to be quite an event. We look forward to seeing you there.

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