The Mediation Times

 

When is a conflict of interests a conflict of interests?

by Amanda on February 15, 2010

Image of toffees stacked like dominos

Wanting to have the toffee AND keep the penny

A recent article in The Daily Breeze (Ca. USA) brought to light the extraordinary story of a mediator who had to think for a very long time before she realised that she should recuse herself from a mediation which involved a party who had made contributions to her political fund. Of course press reports should be viewed with a certain amount of circumspection as they rarely present the whole story.

However, I was interested to read further comment in another local Californian newspaper Press-Telegram, Long Beach, CA which points out the risks of hesitating on this kind of matter. A conflict of interests is a conflict of interests only if it is perceived as one. It is not a conflict of facts…

As mediators, our currency is perception. The perception of trustworthiness and the perception of experience amongst other things. So to mess with any kind of perception is to mess with the only things we have of value. They are intangible value: real, rare and fragile all at the same time. Just like anything of worth having.

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