Announcing the Permaculture Association's Mediation Service

In 2016 the Permaculture Association arranged with Paul Sandford of Albert Square Mediation Limited (trading as ASM Plus) that he would be prepared to undertake online (Skype or Zoom) mediations for our organisation in respect of the following:

  • internal disputes or disagreements between members of the Association be they local, regional or national and whether a formal complaint has been made or otherwise.
  • disputes involving members of the Association and third parties arising out of such matters as contractual/commercial disputes involving customers, clients, trainees, builders, suppliers, landlords, public authorities, partners/co-op members, trustees, shareholders, employees or employers.
  • neighbour disputes.
  • land related disputes.

This arrangement still stands and in the intervening years on occasion it has been used very effectively. Paul is an experienced mediator with knowledge and practical experience of the permaculture ethos. Subject to the demands placed on him by his other commitments, he is happy to work for the Association on a case-by-case basis. If for some reason he is unable to assist on a particular case e.g., where there may be conflict of interest or where one party or another is known to him, he may be able to ask one of his ASM Plus associates to assist instead. He may also suggest co-mediations involving one of his associates.

If you wish to ask Paul to help resolve a dispute or disagreement that you are involved in, please email the Association's complaints officer, Celia Ashman ([email protected]) and provide a brief written outline of the issues and your contact details. She will pass these on to Paul who will then contact you direct. Paul will not generally make a decision on undertaking an individual mediation until he has at the very least been able to speak to the referring party but he reserves the right to do so.

In some instances, Paul can also assist with complaints made against the Association – please refer to our complaints procedure.

Other than in cases that he considers to be unduly complex or that will take more than a day to resolve, Paul is in principle prepared to offer his services on a pro bono basis.  He reserves the right not to take on individual cases and it should be emphasised that this is not offered as a free service in all circumstances.

What is Mediation and why is it so effective?

Mediation is a safe, confidential, voluntary and timely alternative to more formal types of dispute resolution such as pursuing a formal complaint or disciplinary proceedings or going to court. Mediators do not judge, criticise or impose their views or values on their clients. Instead, they help disputing parties by facilitating communication and dialogue, and helping them to resolve issues in a manner that is acceptable to them and that they are comfortable with. The parties themselves are in control of the process and cannot have any form of agreement imposed on them.

Mediation allows for a degree of frankness and candour that could not really be expressed in the more traditional dispute resolution arena e.g., formal complaints processes or court/tribunal proceedings. Mediation’s flexibility means that creative solutions that might not otherwise be considered can be used very effectively.  
At the end of a mediation, if the disputing and now hopefully resolved parties wish, any agreement that has been reached can be recorded in writing. Overall, in instances where it is used to resolve disputes such as those envisaged above, mediation has an 80% plus success rate. The contents of any such agreement might become public knowledge but the substance of what was discussed during the substantive mediation process would remain confidential.

Mediation really does work.  It can save you, your family, work colleagues and associates a lot of time, trouble and expense, not to mention stress.