How we deal with people
Simply reading some of the pages of this website will tell you about the philosophy and psychology that underpin Andrew Taylor’s work as a professional mediator.
He believes handling dispute parties requires natural empathy, broad inter-personal skills, imagination, and that rare ability to look down on the forest while also tending the trees. “Personality” and “Negotiation” are among his personal interests.
Andrew is a “natural” and experienced negotiator, thoughtful, careful in what he says, but always aware of what he wants for his mediation participants and what obstacles might prevent that achievement. Bringing that awareness into mediation enables Andrew to identify obstacles between the parties too and to suggest ways to achieve a settlement that satisfies both parties.
Wide experience in law
Andrew has spent over 20 years in practice as a solicitor, 10 years in other law-based work, and ten years entirely outside the legal profession, as a client. That has given him a unique perspective on all the problems which might beset a business - and how to solve most of them.
As a solicitor, Andrew has worked in a Northern city practice on company and commercial work, including extensive litigation. Later Andrew undertook some 200 personal injury cases of which around fifty related to clinical negligence.
Unlike many mediators, Andrew has direct personal experience of involvement in business litigation. He believes this gives him a rare understanding (among mediators) of what he describes as "trying to sleep and work under the life-destroying clouds of litigation".
. . . . and other business experience
In his business affairs, Andrew has started, sold, closed or floated numerous businesses of his own, or been involved as a director with others, relating to:
- jewellery manufacturing and sale, including import / export.
- residential property renovation, from rural cottages to a 24 room mansion.
- a part time directorship of a public company with responsibility variously for house-building and a steel re-rolling mill.
- pioneering dealing in “micro-computers” before IBM even released the “PC” in the UK.
- building a commercial property development company from scratch to flotation on the Unlisted Securities Market.
- building a retailer of high quality legal document templates - in which he retains an involvement.
- many small property development proposals.
- Andrew has also kept horses on and off, over the years and competed in several spheres.
As result of this experience, there are few situations where Andrew will fail to understand the issues or be unable to guide participants towards solutions and options.
Andrew is attuned to what solicitors and clients want from a mediator. With his firm but affable approach, with both feet firmly on the ground, whether as mediator, lawyer or business adviser, he can be relied on to be determinedly proactive, tenacious and commercially focused.
The Mediator's priorities
Andrew will not be drawn on setting out his style in a sentence, but it comes down to balancing four elements. He says he aims to:
- “be sure that the parties (and I) understand the facts at issue and a broad sweep of the law that applies. The parties need to know enough to be able to make informed decisions but not so much that their interests are swept under the carpet.
- maintain a level playing field - in the room or online, as the case may be. That is sometimes difficult: one side may in fact have a strong case in law and the other side may have an imaginary case. But law aside, I will outlaw filibuster, bombast and bullying.
- make sure both parties are comfortable and confident that they can achieve a settlement.
- ultimately, making sure it is the parties who agree the deal because that is what they want - and not me foisting the deal on them.”
On his role as a mediator, Andrew says:
“I will never be an advocate or judge. The deal you make has to be your own. I will look for a win:win situation. That way, there are no scars of battle, no expense of weaponry, no loss of face, no waste of time.
I try to keep the playing field as level as possible while avoiding taking a role as inquisitor or judge. Never do I forget that my role is as a neutral facilitator.
Mediators have different views as to the appropriate extent to which they should control the mediation process and advise the parties together. I take the view that you pay me a considerable fee to take a pro-active role in achieving a settlement. Sometimes that may involve blunt speaking and disagreement. I hope it will also involve creative thinking. Even if you do not achieve a solution "on the day" I want my intervention to have provided a catalyst around which you may agree terms later. But let's be clear: I do not provide individual legal advice.
I have my feet firmly on the ground and do not live in a legal ivory tower. Many times I have been where you are now - just wishing it would all go away so that I could get on with my life. Sometimes I have made a formal claim in court; sometimes I have negotiated a settlement. Occasionally I have used mediation as I suggest you do now. I can help you.”
- Andrew is a solicitor but not practising as such. Accordingly, he will not undertake "solicitors’ work".
- Andrew will accept instructions relating to most mediation and negotiation work, but reserves the right to refuse in cases were he believes he cannot provide the service you need.
On your special day
- Andrew is no tech wizard but he is a determined user of technology as a tool in any aspect of business affairs. He is particularly enthusiastic about use of online mediation.
- Some Mediators believe in a passive role. Andrew does not. He points out that you have not paid him to sit sweetly by, while you and your conflict party tear each other apart. You have paid a considerable fee to achieve a settlement, so that is what he strives to give you.
- He takes a pro-active role in achieving a settlement. That may involve blunt speaking and gentle disagreement. He hopes it will also involve creative thinking. Even if you do not achieve an instant solution on the day, he will try to provide the catalyst around which you agree terms later More on style of mediation.
- Wanting to win is in our genes. A conflict situation tends to bring out the worst in people. Sometimes they get fixated on “winning”. The opponent is often seen as obstinate and unreasonable and as having failed to “understand”. Andrew will bring the parties round to see each other’s view point and to find a way to satisfy conflicting aims for a solution.
- Andrew is also available to assist you with both direct negotiations and to assist you as a party to a mediation through some other mediator. His analytic approach and understanding of the law, the issues and the way people behave, make him a valuable colleague at any stage of a dispute. Andrew can advise you generally or specifically on dispute management, or accompany you through a difficult or ongoing mediation process.