“Mediation: Why and How in Family Businesses”

The essence of mediation and its utility in dealing with family business issues as explained by Dr. Michèle Guillaume-Hofnung.

Jun 16, 2016

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Mediation, a field that is presently gaining ascending worldwide interest, is often regarded as a form of – what is called in legal matters – alternative dispute resolution (ADR).

In a presentation for the Family Business Network (FBN), organized by the Institute of Family and Entrepreneurial Business (IFEB) on June 9 at the LAU Executive Center, Dr. Michèle Guillaume-Hofnung’s main aim was to share a clear definition of mediation and the reasons for resorting to it, instead of arbitration or conciliation, stressing on its intended perspective and the advantageous role it assumes in resolving family disputes.

Guillaume-Hofnung is a professor at the faculty of law and director of the master of diplomacy and strategic negotiations at the University of Paris-Sud. She is also the director of the Institute of Mediation Guillaume-Hofnung (IMGH) in France. Beside her 30-year practice, she has authored a book about mediation within “Que sais-je?”— A series of books introducing the reader to a certain field of study.

In her proposal to the French Government, Guillaume-Hofnung defines family mediation, based upon the social one, as a process of ethical communication aimed at establishing or re-establishing links, to prevent conflict and attain a solution that is satisfactory to the concerned parties without employing legal measures.

“You deserve to face real mediators, not ones with little training who do not know the difference between real mediation and arbitration or negotiation,” Guillaume-Hofnung addressing the attendees.

“The goal of my presentation is to identify with you cases where mediation is a good means to solve the situation,” she further explained.
For that end, Guillaume-Hofnung presented the relevance of the subject in family businesses, elaborating on the proposed definition and the functions of mediation which are relatable to families. She shared examples of disagreement that may occur between family members and in businesses, which neither a judge nor an arbitrator may have to deal with. She also clarified the process, the conditions to make it efficient and the requirements to become an effective mediator.

“Indeed, mediation is not an instrument; it is the great social and ethical adventure of the 21st century. Without it, social intelligence will not develop. That is one more reason to not confuse mediation and arbitration,” as she concluded her presentation.

The lecture solicited the participation of the FBN members who had several inquiries about this field and the prospects of its development in Lebanon.