Blažo Nedić - Apology in Mediation (24 April 2020)
Independent Mediator, Trainer, Consultant and Attorney
Blažo Nedić is an internationally accredited independent mediator, trainer, consultant and attorney based in Belgrade, with over 25 years of practice in Serbia, Europe, and the USA. He is the President of the Serbian National Association of Mediators (NUMS) and one of the World Bank’s 30 Regional Mediators, where he serves as a mediator, facilitator and conflict competency trainer for the World Bank Europe and Central Asia regions.
As a mediator he is certified by the ABA Dispute Resolution Section, ADR Group UK, and JAMS International. In 2014 he finished Harvard University Advance Program on Negotiation (PON). In Serbia he is licensed for mediation and accredited to conduct foundation and specialized mediation trainings by the Ministry of Justice, and is listed by the Serbian Chamber of Commerce and the Commissioner for Anti-Discrimination. Since 2006, Blažo focused his career exclusively on dispute resolution and he mediated several hundred commercial, workplace, property and discrimination cases, including 40 cases in Los Angeles County Superior Court in 2018. As a mediation specialist he assisted Baker Hughes – GE global litigation department in resolving complex international commercial disputes. Currently, he serves as the Key Expert for Mediation and ADR at the EU project – Support to the Supreme Court of Cassation in Serbia.
In 2012 he was a recipient of the JAMS Weinstein International Mediation Fellowship, and is now a Senior Fellow of the Weinstein International Mediation Foundation. In 2015 he was a visiting lecturer at Belgrade University Faculty of Law Mediation Clinic, and in 2016 here received a mediation award from the Slovenian Association of Mediators. In 2017 and 2019, Blažo served as a judge and mediator at the ICC Mediation Competition in Paris, France. In 2015, he co-founded ADR Partners, a Serbia-based company providing mediation, negotiation and ADR services and trainings.
Blažo holds a BA Degree in Law from the University of Belgrade, a Postgraduate Diploma in International and Comparative Business Law from Metropolitan University London, and LL.M. in Dispute Resolution Degree from Pepperdine University School of Law in Malibu, California.
He regularly writes, speaks, and presents on mediation related issues at international events, blogs, and forums. He speaks Serbian, English and basic French, and mediates in Serbian and English.
Blažo Nedić's webinar
Time: 3:00PM CEST
Mr. Blažo Nedić (IMI Certified Mediator and Senior Fellow of the Weinstein International Mediation Foundation) gave a resourceful presentation on ‘Apology in Mediation’. Mr. Nedić started his presentation by requesting individuals to ponder over how apologies (e.g. “I’m sorry,” or “I apologize.”) are a part of our daily business and personal life. He emphasized on the importance of apology as a powerful tool in reconciliation. He opined that an apology that is sincere, complete and timely could result in forgiveness and reconciliation.
Mr. Nedić elucidated that an apology may be offered for motivational reasons such as but are not exhaustive to remorse, regret, empathy, harmless error, and social harmony. Diving deeper into the concept of apology, he stated that the sources of motivation to offer an apology could come from both internal and external factors. Additionally, internal motivations are usually a result of guilt and empathy, while external motivations arise from wanting to avoid sanctions and minimizing adverse consequences. Mr. Nedić gave an example of an apology in victim-offender situations. When the apology offered to the victim by the offender is motivated by internal factors such as feelings of guilt, the victim would remain the focus. Conversely, when apology is motivated by external factors of wanting to minimize adverse sanctions, the offender would be the focus of such an apology.
Furthermore, Mr. Nedić expressed the need to understand psychological needs such as restoration of dignity, assurance of shared values, and promise of safety in the victim’s future to render an effective apology. In Mr. Nedić's opinion, the following elements constitute an effective apology:
- Acknowledgment of the offence;
- Expression of remorse;
- Explanation for the offence;
- Acceptance of responsbility;
- Repatriation offer;
- Request for forgiveness; and
- Lessons learnt from the offence.
Mr. Nedić believed that the delivery medium of an apology is just as important as drafting an effective apology. He stated that an apology could be delivered through various mediums vis-a-viś in person, an email, a letter, or the press; or through a relative, friend, attorney, or mediator depending on the circumstances. Mr. Nedić then underlined the positive effects of apologizing.
Mr. Nedić observed that lawyers are generally reluctant to advise their clients to apologize. He cited the following reasons: (i) lawyers do not consider apology as part of solution, (ii) it might be too late to offer an apology, and (iii) an apology would be against the aggressive nature of the lawyer. The reasons are not exhaustive to those shared during the session. Mr Nedić concluded that if a lawyer advises his/her client to extend an apology, the trust and rapport between lawyer and client will be at the forefront of the client’s decision.
Mr. Nedić demonstrated that mediators play their role as catalysts of conscience while facilitating an apology during mediations. He concluded his presentation on the note that mediators should not advise parties to apologize but facilitate the party in formulating an effective apology. That is, of course, if the party intends to apologize.
The presentation was followed by an interactive Q&A session. Some topics addressed by Mr. Nedić during the session included:
- When should a mediator encourage a party to behave in a certain way whilst maintaining neutrality?
- How does one differentiate between explanation and justification? Would every explanation not appear as a justification from a victim’s perspective?
- How does one identify the motivation behind a request for an apology as part of the remedy? Similarly, how does one extend an apology accordingly?
- Mr. Nedić on mandatory mediation for certain types of disputes where an apology could be a strong element for a settlement
- If a party furnishes a bad apology can mediators help the party rephrase it so as to communicate an effective apology to the receiving party?
If you would like to listen to the session, or access handouts, it is available here.
We would like to thank our friends at the International Mediation Institute for having made this session possible.