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Seven of the UK's leading mediators have launched a mediation panel to generate work, rather than relying on recommendations from the Centre for Dispute Resolution (CEDR) or the Alternative Dispute Resolution Group (ADR).
The Panel of Independent Mediators (PIM) members - Phillip Howell-Richardson, David Miles, Philip Naughton QC, Andrew Paton, Nicholas Pryor, David Shapiro, and Tony Willis - will stay independent, but by linking they hope to be more "visible" and attract clients directly.
All seven will continue in their current work, but with the arrival of the pro-mediation Woolf reforms and its increasing popularity with judges, Naughton says that they plan to make the mediation market more professional.
Willis, Clifford Chance consultant and CEDR co-founder, says: "We're not trying to cut out CEDR, but the time has come for us to be seen as providers in our own right."
Karl Mackie, CEDR's chief executive, says PIM reflects "frustration" among mediators that while CEDR saw a 100 per cent increase in business last year from firms which use it, the centre has to spread referrals round a wide range of registered mediators.
"There will be some room for this because the market is growing anyway, but the question is if law firms think going to individuals is better." While PIM's members are experienced, he warns this could be the start of less reputable operators hawking for work.