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The possibilities and desirability of mediator neutrality: towards an ethic of partiality?

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This article draws on an empirical study of community mediation to question the possibility and desirability of mediator neutrality. It argues that, although the notion of neutrality is central to discussions of adjudication and mediation, debate on the topic remains intellectually flawed and empirically problematic. Emphasis on the aspirational nature of neutrality encourages us to ignore the suggestion that rather than facilitating fair process and outcome the standard of neutrality could serve to exacerbate existing inequalities between disputants. When discussed in the context of mediation the ideal becomes even more suspect as mediation promises 'alternatives' to the inadequacies of court-based adjudication. This article explores the questions raised by a group of mediators who rejected the possibility and desirability of mediation in favour of a more reflexive approach to third-party intervention in disputes. It suggests that, rather than aspiring to the empty goal of neutrality, we should be debating the possibility of partiality as an ethical standard to govern dispute resolution.

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en

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http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/26594/

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