Please introduce yourself…
I’m Gregg Hunt. I’m a mediator and run a business called Hunt ADR which has different mediation, arbitration and adjudication services (collectively known as ‘ADR’ or ‘Alternative Dispute Resolution’). We also train mediators – online and in person and provide CPD and training for arbitrators as well. I started Hunt ADR after working in the mediation sector for 20+ years for some of the world’s leading arbitration and mediation bodies. Eventually I had an opportunity to go alone and we are now in our fourth year. I’m originally from the North West of England and had worked in the City of London for nearly 20 years before I set up my own business. I have worked on ADR projects in 22 different countries and all over the UK.
What got you involved in mediation?
I was given the opportunity to train to be a Chartered Arbitrator and it didn’t suit me at the time as my personal skills are more geared towards helping people to find solutions rather than being a decision maker. When I was then given the opportunity to train to be a mediator I took it and it changed my outlook completely on the best way for disputes to be settled. That was in 2001. I qualified for a second time in 2008 and became an accredited mediator trainer in 2017. I have now done more than 100 mediations and trained hundreds of people to be mediators from across the UK and places like France, Spain, Poland, South Africa, Canada and Chile.
What is your favourite thing about mediating?
For me it is about helping a business to survive when it thought it had a huge problem that couldn’t be resolved. I especially like mediating small business disputes for this reason. My favourite thing is seeing two businesses who started the day in dispute walk away (or log off) at the end of the day not only with a settlement but with a repaired relationship and opportunities to do more business together.
What experience have you in online mediation?
I was the UK’s first government appointed ‘ODR Expert’ dealing in what was then the new concept of “ODR” (Online Dispute Resolution). I held that role for about five years and it saw me involved in some of the early moves to develop online mediation across Europe. I often held different views to others as I saw ODR as being a tool to be used by mediators to allow them to mediate online, where as the main thrust seemed to be to try and create a whole new profession and sector in ODR. This was not wise as the ADR sector was not even fully established at the time. I remain convinced to this day that a lot of people try to overcomplicate the matter – an online mediator uses the same skills as a mediator in person, they just use technology and have to adapt to apply some of those skills slightly differently. ODR and ADR are not in my view two different things.
What are the differences between mediating face to face and online?
It could be limiting if there are a lot of people in the mediation as it is more difficult (but with experience not impossible) to control rooms and keep tabs on who is coming and going. But fundamentally it is more than suitable for most disputes and has the advantage of huge savings in terms of travel costs and room hire etc. Of course, most importantly at the moment, it allows businesses to have their dispute resolved without having to wait to go to court once the pandemic is over (whenever that might be).
What do you think the future holds for online mediation?
That is a great question and very difficult to answer, so don’t hold me to this! For many years we have been predicting a big increase in mediation case numbers. It makes sense, but it never really happens. Mediation is growing all the time but the numbers are still lower than expected or hoped for by now. But with Coronavirus there are so many court claims which are being delayed and it is largely accepted that the courts will not be able to cope with demand once they are back open – whenever that might be. This time then there are real reasons for the government and others like the CBI and the FSB to promote mediation as the favoured way to resolve disputes. The Civil Mediation Council is also becoming more of a force and the combination of all the stars aligning could mean in the mid to long term future that courts become less busy and mediation is seen as the norm. The longer the pandemic goes on it will also become the norm to use online mediation to resolve disputes so even when we start moving around again I expect that online mediation will still be a popular method to resolve disputes. This will especially be the case if businesses, including law firms, continue to allow staff to work from home.
Why did you become a member of CCODR?
I have seen lots of online mediation platforms over the years and lots of offers from organisations to subscribe and be involved. I have always resisted but now I really need a platform as I am mediating more online and CCODR seemed like a perfect fit. The team at CCODR are committed to growing mediation and educating business on the benefits of mediating online especially during the pandemic. So, for me it was important to be able to use the technology but equally important to be part of a group who had the same goals as me – to promote mediation, promote online mediation and help businesses survive.
Gregg Hunt is a mediator and panel member of CCODR.