Mediation in Hong Kong
Cheung Wai Man is a solicitor currently practising as a Consultant at Christopher Li & Co., Solicitors & Notaries in Hong Kong SAR. She is also a General Mediator, accredited by Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (HKIAC) and a member of The Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (MCIArb.) Below, Miss Cheung speaks to Finance Monthly about her legal […]
Cheung Wai Man is a solicitor currently practising as a Consultant at Christopher Li & Co., Solicitors & Notaries in Hong Kong SAR. She is also a General Mediator, accredited by Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (HKIAC) and a member of The Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (MCIArb.) Below, Miss Cheung speaks to Finance Monthly about her legal practice, and in particular, her mediation work.
What kind of disputes that involve mediation do you handle?
Thus far in my career, I’ve worked on four mediation for litigation cases and have appeared as a party’s legal representative in Financial Dispute Resolution (FDR) hearings before FDR Judge – all in matrimonial cases. When it comes to this type of cases, parties have attempted private family mediation, and a few have been able to reach a settlement. In a few cases, this has resulted in having their terms of settlement reduced in Consent Summons by both parties’ solicitors for the Court’s granting of matrimonial settlement order. Other cases have been settled after one or two FDR hearings without having full trial on the question of ancillary relief. Yet, a considerable number of the cases I have handled are still settled traditionally by without prejudiceMediation has been becoming a popular Alternative Dispute Resolution method in Hong Kong since 2010 when the Hong Kong Judiciary implemented a practice direction to encourage parties to have mediation for court cases before trial, with a view to save time and reduce litigation costs. As it’s been less than a decade since mediation was officially introduced in Hong Kong, there is still a lot that needs to be done in terms of developing our domestic mediation practices.
When is the right time to choose a mediator in a dispute?
Normally, the right time to choose a mediator in a dispute is when documentary evidence relevant to the dispute is disclosed and the parties’ issues and stances in the dispute are known. During this stage, the parties are more likely to have an effective mediation conference to communicate and work on their differences with a view to eventually reach a settlement. Parties can then have a clear idea of what mediation can achieve and choose the mediator based on his/her areas of expertise.
How do matrimonial cases differ from other cases that you’ve worked on?
Matrimonial cases tend to be a bit more personal as the Family Court requires to see a party’s report of their finances or a financial statement. Another thing that is specific to the nature of matrimonial cases is that the general atmosphere during proceedings is quite heated and emotional.
Family mediation during the pre-proceedings stage is highly desirable as this is when parties can have a private and confidential negotiation and overcome their differences, which can result in a quick settlement. A friendlier, more civil approach is obviously advisable for families who have children.
What skills would you say are essential for a good mediator?
I think that in order to be a mediator, one should be able to effortlessly encourage two individuals to communicate with one another. A good mediator needs to be confident, articulate, analytical and persuasive and have excellent listening and summarising skills.
What would be your top advice for managing disputes to the best possible outcome?
My top advice is to make sure to fully understand the parties’ cause(s) and the background of a dispute. Assess the strength of each party’s case. Know each party’s expectation for the outcome of the dispute and the concession(s) that each party is willing to make in order to settle it. Avoid and/or shorten the duration of a litigation proceeding to save time and reduce costs, if there is an ADR method that can be used instead. And lastly, encourage both sides to consider a win-win type of settlement.
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