Mediation ethics traditionally gives a central role to mediator neutrality and party self-determination. However, the relationship between these two concepts can sometimes give rise to ethical dilemmas, particularly in scenarios involving power imbalances or vulnerable parties. How, then, can the two notions be reconciled? This talk explores the idea that party self-determination, rather than mediator neutrality, should be given center stage in mediation ethics. This is because, first, party self-determination is what distinguishes mediation from other forms of dispute resolution and, second, it provides a principled basis for the legitimacy of mediation and its outcomes. Mediator neutrality can then be viewed as a tool to support party self-determination, rather than the other way around.
Jonathan Crowe is Professor of Law at Bond University, Gold Coast, Australia. He is currently a Visiting Scholar in the Government Department at UT Austin. Prof. Crowe is an Honorary Life Member of the Australasian Society of Legal Philosophy, having served as its President from 2014 to 2018, and a former President of the Australian Dispute Resolution Research Network. His forthcoming book, Mediation Ethics: From Theory to Practice (co-authored with Prof. Rachael Field) will be published by Edward Elgar in 2019.
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