Beyond Mediation

Beyond Mediation - Part 2

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Well, let’s turn the question round. If like 99.9% of the people in the country, you have to live next door to neighbours, it’s a fair chance that at some time you'll have a disagreement over something or you or your neighbour will have done something that the other party wants put right or changed. Most normal people would discuss the situation and either reach a compromise, agree to disagree or put right whatever was done wrong. And if it was you who had done something wrong, then you would be more than happy to see the error of your ways, put things right and move on.

Oh and before anything else. “I AM NOT ALONE”. Had you forgotten already? Don’t worry; by the end of this article, you'll probably be repeating it on the way to work. You may get some funny looks from strangers if you shout it out, but that’s ok, we don’t mind that.

Anyway where were we? Oh yes. Normal neighbour situations. There are tons and tons of examples, but let’s take three that often spark off problems with NFHs. It all boils down to a single issue but we'll get to that, but see if you can spot it in advance.

Firstly, an application for planning. You'll see on most council websites that they make a special point of recommending to applicants that they discuss their plans with their neighbours. OK, so you or your neighbour do this. You either agree, compromise or disagree and just let the planning process run its course. Whether you or your neighbour win out is left to the planners and you both let their decision be final without the need for you to fall out. You just move on.

Secondly. Parking. One day you inadvertently park in a space reserved for your neighbour. Your neighbour comes round asking you to move the car. You agree to do so. Your neighbour asks you not to do it again to which you agree. You both move on.

And thirdly, and probably most common problem of all, noise. Your neighbour plays their music loud one Saturday evening. You call round and ask them to turn it down. They agree and that’s the end of it. Usually accompanied by you both agreeing that if there is any more excessive noise that they will let the other know.

So three fairly typical issues. But what’s the common thread?

Being reasonable.

We’ve all had disagreements in the past, starting in the playground, where perhaps we dealt with it in an immature manner, but as time goes on we learn from it. We progress to the workplace where we also have disagreements but we act reasonably. Or try to. And we’ve all seen those who never act reasonably. Ever wondered why they fail to make the grade? Or if they do, it’s because they’ve trodden on everyone else to get there.

Alright, alright, we can already hear you saying. “Flippin’ heck NFHiB! Where did you get the rose tinted spectacles from? What airy, fairy world do you think we live in?”

OK! OK! We know that that they may be some, if not heated, then slightly warm exchanges involving the above but the majority of folk wouldn’t want a permanent rift with their neighbours and would patch things up pretty quickly.

And even when things did get out of hand, most of the rest would be willing to try and go to mediation which is usually provided by your local Council. We’ve often heard of some difficulties with Councils taking the problems of NFH seriously but we’ve also heard of the mediation services sorting out even the most intransigent of disputes.

Whilst the main thrust of this article is about dealing with the situation when your NFH refuses mediation, we should emphasise here (and we'll be doing it again) that you should never, ever refuse the offer of mediation whether its offered by your neighbour or by someone else such as the police. Of course you know that your NFH will never accept, but should the matter ever proceed to court, the court will want to know whether mediation was offered and who accepted and who rejected it.


And if the thought of sitting down with the NFH fills you with dread, you do not have to meet the NFH face to face. The mediator can liaise between the parties.

But, for the purpose of this article, a typical NFH will never want mediation because it entails several things which they cannot tolerate. So, really most NFHs who accept mediation, we don’t really class as NFHs. We know there have been exceptions but generally speaking a true NFH would never accept mediation as it involves….

  • Having to speak to someone who adopts a reasonable tone.

  • Mediation may involve having to see the situation from your point of view.

  • Mediation involves having to bring to an end all their harassment and intimidation of you.

  • If the mediation was successful this may allow you to live your life normally without interference from them.

  • You may be seen as winning by your NFH.

Again it all boils down to the inability to be reasonable.

So what makes a typical NFH? I’m sure you could find a few choice words, most of which couldn’t be printed here, but in essence a typical NFH is someone who maintains the position of being UNREASONABLE.

We'll see why this is the case soon.