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“Tony Lendrum Named Alongside Top NZ Mediator”
Extract From National Business Review November 2010


..Thiry years ago judges were generalist and thought they could bring broad talents to bear but the changing world and greater demands by litigants meant the age of the generalist judge was gone.

Clients were looking at who was good in the field and the future lay with specialist judges, not generalists. [A senior civil lawyer] says the appointment process for judges was also skewed, with the priority being to have certain ratios of men and women in metropolitan and provincial areas, rather than appointments on ability.
Courts were not giving decent expression of principle in commercial cases.

And going to court was expensive, because court costs awards cover only a fraction of real legal costs.
Court costs were generally set at a 2B basis - which covered only 5-10% of actual legal costs.
If going to court cost $50,000, and the successful party got back at best $5,000, would it not be better to go private for $25,000? A going rate for private resolution is about $8,000 a day and, anecdotally, most major disputes are said to be resolved in about three days. Some take one day.

Auckland barrister Warren Sowerby, of Bankside Chambers, is regarded as the most successful mediator and arbi- trator in New Zealand and the "guru" of the private system. It was said Mr Sowerby, who was not available to comment on this story, had about 95% success in settling cases, and settled more disputes in a year than the Auckland High Court.

A lot of his work is in Christchurch, where the High Court hears few commercial claims. Other High Courts around the country do little, if any, commercial work. He had reputedly kept the parties at the table till well after 1am or 2am if settlement was in sight - an indicator mediation in the right hands was successful. Parties have to agree to a final and binding settlement.

Auckland barrister Tony Lendrum was said to have had similar success resolving Family Court-related disputes.

In many ways the private arbitration/mediation systems mirror the way industrial disputes used to be resolved.

“Dinner Table to Negotiation Table.”
Extract From Metro Magazine November 2007

Tony Lendrum recently trained as a mediator after 30 years as a family lawyer scrapping over divorce cases in court. “ I was tired of the negativity of the adversarial court system. I had a real belief that it was a better way to resolve theses sort of disputes for most people,” he says. Now he’s an ardent cheerleader for mediation and is often called on by lawyers to mediate property relationship cases with the aim of reaching a swift resolution and keeping them out of court. This involves getting the disputing couple in a room and working through the issues, with legal guidance from their lawyers. It usually takes one day and costs are the mediator’s fee of about $4000 shared between the two parties, plus the lawyers’ fees.

Recently Lendrum mediated a situation with many parallels to the X v X case. A couple in their 40s had split after 20 years of marriage. The wife was a professional with a good professional qualification who had put her career to one side to travel with her husband while he obtained further qualifications and to look after their family. Lendrum says the wife was allowed the opportunity to speak with some feeling about her situation during the negotiations. The husband saw fit to offer a payout of more than $650,000, to compensate for her terminated career, a much greater sum than she could have expected to get from a judicial judgement. All the lawyers were amazed, says Lendrum. Including him.

Lendrum has had a number of other economic disparity payments ranging between $100,000 and $200,000. He terms them “fairness payments” because people, especially wealthy male earners, tend to get their backs up at the mention
of section 15....

.....Lendrum’s biggest case so far has been over a fortune of $39 million, which he split close to evenly as both parties, former business partners, were very pragmatic and wanted it settled quickly and sensibly.

More than 95 per cent of Lendrum’s mediations settle on the day. He believes the system works because, unlike the courts, the people who are in dispute are in control and have flexibility to nut out the outcomes that suit them and retain some dignity and self-esteem. It saves money, time and emotion. People are also more willing to disclose their private finances in mediation knowing that they wont be at risk of being exposed through the courts. One of the things they like about it is that it’s absolutely private and confidential,” says Lendrum.

“For example, I had a mediation that was going nowhere through the courts primarily because one of the parties was in all likelihood a drug dealer, although he claimed he was a purveyor of party pills. It wasn’t
my job to decide if he was or he wasn’t but he was dealing in something. He was very unhappy about going to court so you can draw your own conclusions from that. He was very prepared to come to mediation, where he made a settlement the was very appropriate”.