Mediation in unusual times

We live in extraordinary times, when cooperation to resolve problems is more necessary than ever. Togetherness is predominant at present, but if it has not already started, the moment is near when market parties will try to shift the financial burden in the time of COVID-19, with all disputes and issues as a result of that.

These disputes can be of a special nature, because entrepreneurs have not been able to prepare for a scenario with all restrictions as imposed by authorities today. Unforeseen issues will raise that parties will have to solve together, in a joint effort, in order to be able to continue their cooperation in the future. Current unusual circumstances will not be provided for in all contracts or agreed terms.

Dispute resolution requires an approach that focuses on solutions in the mutual interest of the parties, while doing justice to the interests of each party and with prospect for continued cooperation between the parties. Mediation offers this approach.

UNUM is a dispute resolution institution that provides a platform for conducting professional arbitration and mediation proceedings for the maritime sector (

UNUM and the professionals working through the platform want to contribute to the resolution of disputes for the benefit of parties in international trade, logistics and the port-related community by making targeted use of their mediation and arbitration capacities.

How can we do that in a time of social distancing?

Parties that are interested in resolving their dispute in this way report themselves to UNUM. Thereupon UNUM appoints a mediator in accordance with the UNUM Mediation Rules. The mediator contacts the parties and concludes an abbreviated mediation agreement with them. The mediator then invites one representative per party for a walk around “Kralingse Plas” (a small lake in a Rotterdam park, but of course a different location can also be chosen). During that walk of a maximum of one hour, during which the mediator and the party representatives keep at least 1.5 meters distance, each of the parties will get half an hour to tell their story. The others listen. If required, the mediator will make up a brief report of what parties have told. One or two sessions via video conferencing may follow, in which the mediator guides parties in a dialogue to find a solution. If required, a settlement agreement can be drawn up.

Mediators work for the walk and up to two one-hour sessions via video conferencing for free. UNUM will bear 50% of the usual administration costs. Each party pays 25% of the usual administration costs only. The standard UNUM rates will be charged for drafting a settlement agreement by the mediator. Only if the mediator incurs significant travel costs, a small fee will be charged to cover these costs.

A mediator is neutral and independent. He shall not make any decisions for or on behalf of the parties, but he guides parties in the process to jointly find a solution of their dispute. The mediator and the parties will agree on confidentiality. Parties can speak freely.

UNUM and the available mediators hope to contribute to swift and efficient resolution of any issues arising from the unexpected COVID-19 crises.

This offer is valid until at least 1 September 2020.


For further information please contact