Latest News 2018-02-28T14:43:15+00:00
2903, 2019

Empathy as a tool in Mediation

The difference between empathy and sympathy can be the difference between connection or not. This funny video is brilliant at pointing us in the right direction.


Susan Appelbe is a Mediator who works primarily in the Munster counties of  Cork, Kerry, Waterford, Tipperary, Clare and Limerick. Susan does a lot of mediation helping separating couples organise themselves and their finances on the road towards divorce.

3101, 2019

Bullying in the workplace; a complex issue for Employers.

An interesting article by Katherine Graham called When Did Bullying Stop Being Something that Only Happened in the Playground? Was just published.

Katherine points out that when Health and Safety reps were asked what is the most common issues they deal with they said that stress came top, bullying and harassment next. Bullying in the public sector (in the UK )in particular – cited by 80% of reps as their biggest challenge.

Very few large organisations appear to succeed in avoiding bullying in the workplace. Recently a BBC Newsnight investigation into a culture of bullying and abuse of power over House of Commons staff continues to sent shockwaves around the entire organisation.

The employer is in a very tricky position when it comes to bullying. If they come down to hard on the employee accused of bullying things might get worse and lead to a constructive dismissal claim. Various practices and procedures have to be adhered to and it is very hard for the employer or human resource manager to manage the situation without potentially making it worse.
Katherine makes the point in her article that –” Organisations need to open up, encourage more honesty, more conversations that deal with root issues of power and inequality – in other words, making constructive challenge a normal and healthy part of the workplace culture. HR need to ask whether their systems and approach are fair and just, do they lead to the kind of confidence that encourages a victim to come forward.”


More and more employers are choosing Mediation as early intervention when disputes arise in the workplace. Why? Well its cheaper, easier, can contribute to staff moral and avoid the risks of Employment Appeals Tribunal or Rights Commissioner Applications or the Labour Court. Most employers find the Rights Commissioner very pro employee and seek to avoid ending up there. Workplace Mediation needs to be dealt with sensitivity and with knowledge of the legal position so that any legal action can be avoided.
In most workplace Meditations the Mediator is asked to work through the dispute with a view to getting everyone back to full productivity as fast as possible. Sometimes the relationship has broken down and an agreement is requested about the terms on which the employee leaves, this sometimes involves a settlement.

Common workplace disputes involve

Sexual harassment,
Stressed workers,
Unfair treatment within the organisation
Complaints regarding breach of terms of employment .
Complaints regarding failures under the legislation.
Workplace injury
Working time regulations,
Threats with strike action or other industrial action such as work to rule.
Breach of equality legislation.
Contractual issues.
Work Permits.
Safety at work and safe systems of Work.

As every experienced employer knows unhappy staff means less productivity and higher turnover of staff.


Employers must be aware of the Legal obligation to provide Terms of Employment under the Terms of Employment (Information )Acts 1994-2014, the duties include to provide employees with certain information relating issues such as rate of pay, job description, hours of work and a contract of employment.
Other relevant legislation is the National Minimum Wage Act 2000 and the Minimum Notice and Terms of Employment Acts 1973-2005. In terms of Industrial Relations there is The Industrial Relations (Amendment )Act 2015. This deals with issues such as REAs or Registered Employment Agreements and Sectoral Employment, Orders or SEOs. The Organisation of Working time (Records) (prescribed form and Exemptions )Regulations 2001 deal with issues such as Annual leave,maximum working hours, hours worked, public holidays. Then there is Maternity Leave Protection (Amendment Act) 2004 and the Paternity Leave and Benefit Act 2016
Additional pieces of legislation are the Carer’s Leave Act 2001, the Safety, Heath and Welfare at work Act 2005 and the Employment Equality Acts 1998-2015, the Redundancy Payments Acts 1967-2014 and the Unfair Dismissal Acts 1977-2015. Now there is the Irish Human Right and equality Commission who provide information in this area.

In relation to work permits the Department of Business Enterprise and Innovation provides information in Employment Permits under the Employment Permits(Amendment)Regulations 2018. The workplace Relations Act 2015 established the Workplace Relations Commission.

Susan Appelbe works solely as a Mediator now however worked as a solicitor for many years so has a unique insight into conflict management in the workplace and the laws surrounding employment.
Susan when working as a solicitor represented clients at Employment Appeals Tribunals and worked extensively with issue such as unfair dismissal, constructive dismissal and redundancy payments and all manner of contractual issues that arise under employment. Susan also has been an employer herself so has an insight into the management of staff along with the legislation surrounding the subject.

Susan runs a Nationwide Mediation practice, she regularly does work in town around Cork County such as Youghal, Mitchelstown,Fermoy,Charleville,Dunmanway, Skibbereen and Castletownbere. Susan also does work in all counties but in particular Munster counties Kerry, Cork, Waterford, Tipperary Limerick and Clare.

2211, 2018

What is Mediation on youtube from the Mediators’ Institute of Ireland.

The Mediators’ Institute of Ireland have produced some youtube videos giving excellent information on Mediation.

Susan Appelbe is a trained Mediator who is accredited to the MII or Mediators, Institute of Ireland.

Susan Appelbe is bringing vast legal knowledge to the table having worked for many years as a Solicitor. Susan worked in the areas of Property Law, Conveyancing, Litigation(Supreme Court, High Court, Circuit Court and District Court), Family Law, Succession and Probate.

Susan Appelbe is a Mediator who is working mostly in the Munster area. Susan works all over Cork county from Youghal in East Cork, Mitchelstown in North Cork and Castletownbere in West Cork. Susan also Mediates in other counties including Kerry, Tipperary Laois, Carlow,Waterford, Clare and Limerick and Dublin. She works Primarily in the areas of Commercial Mediation and Family Mediation. In Commercial Mediation in particular dealing with disputes between employees in the workplace such as bullying, harassment, workplace policies and procedures, disciplinary procedures  and arguments between staff.  Additionally she does a lot of work in family Meditations. Couples prior to getting a Divorce or legal separation come to Susan for a mediated agreement in the areas of family finances, succession rights, custody , access,child maintenance, spousal maintenance, university fees and expenses for children, behavioral and health issues with children. Mediated agreements last longer than Court orders and are preferable in family law matters in particular.

510, 2018

“The Mediation Miracle” is the name of an article by retried US Judge Leonard Edwards examining the positive impacts of mandatory Mediation since the 80’s in family law cases in California.

The Meditation Act 2017 did not bring mandatory mediation into Ireland. It is my opinion that it should have in certain circumstances, and of course family law and separating couples would be on the top of my list for mandatory mediation. Family Law is an area where the preservation of relationships is so important and arguably mandatory mediation is the most justified especially in the area of child custody. Divorce is rightly considered one of the most stressful times of a persons life and then of course if there are children there is the impact on them of the divorce and whatever changes and acrimony that brings.

In California in 1981 mandatory mediation in child custody cases was brought in and the results have been a resounding success. The author of “The Mediation Miracle” noted a “profound shift away from the traditional adversarial  model of dispute resolution in family matters and towards a system that supports that private ordering of  these issues.” In California there are currently more than 400 full time mediators carrying out more that 100,000  mediations per year. Judge Edwards comments in his article that “evaluations through the years have demonstrated that a high percentage of cases reach settlement without trial resulting in reduced court workloads;that client satisfaction is high; and that children are well served” the author also notes that an increase in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) methods was inspired by the family mediation. Judge Leonard goes so far as to comment that the experience on some Juvenile courts is that mediation has had a positive impact on the court culture.
The Californian law in 1982 required parents to attempt mediation on issues of child custody or visitation before resorting to litigation or the courts.  My understanding is that if you wish to use the legal aid service in Cork for your family law work such as divorce or separation that you have to first attend mediation and get a certificate from the mediator that mediation has failed, before the matter is allocated to a solicitor. The reduction in legal costs by this alone must be huge, but of course there is also the savings human terms, helping family relationships. In California they increased the court fees in order part fund the mandated mediation, this was a very clever technique, they financially charged more to those who choose to use the courts services. When I was working as a solicitor I on many occasions came across clients who were paying privately for legal fees being brought to court repeatedly over minor issues or issues that could have been resolved elsewhere. Courts are unfortunately on occasion used as a tool to inflict distress on the former partner. This in my experience was particularly prevalent when one party qualified for legal aid and therefore have low or no legal fees. This was particularly so with district court applications in the family law.
In the article Judge Leonard Edwards acknowledges that there will always be litigation, as some parents will need a judge to make custody orders or other orders such as access or maintenance in family law. However Judge  Edwards comments “we know the orders that judges make after hearing evidence are not as effective or as long lasting as mediated agreements”
Susan Appelbe is a trained and experienced solicitor she now provides mediation services using her wealth of legal knowledge from her years as a solicitor on the south mall in Cork and later on the Lower Glanmire Road in cork and then in Bandon in West Cork. Susan works helping separating couples dividing their asserts, put parenting  plans in place,custody, access, maintenance, teenage mediation and dealing with the issues that arise in the lead up to a divorce in Ireland. Susan works mostly in the Munster area,in particular Cork, travelling all over the county to areas such as Youghal, Michelstown and Castletownbere. elsewhere in Muster Susan regularly works in Tipperary, Limerick, Waterford and Kerry.
2509, 2018

Alternative ways to manage the aftermath of healthcare errors or Professional Negligence from Medical Staff.

Expert speakers are presenting a conference in Belfast in relation to alternative ways to manage the aftermath of healthcare errors or professional negligence from medical staff. One of the alternatives to be discussed is mediation. Mediation is being used more and more in relation to healthcare. It is a very welcome change for the patient and their family to save them from the costly and stressful court process which unfortunately all to often follows medical error or medical negligence. In the Republic of Ireland the HSE (the Health Service Executive) are using mediation more. The HSE every year spend so much funds on legal fees. It is the opinion of many in the Solicitors and Barristers that cases are not settled, mediated  or resolved by the HSE that should be leading to huge additional legal fees for the HSE. In relation to the Cervical Check scandal there were great promises of mediation where possible to the patients, however the use or meditation in these cases appears to not have been as widespread as initially hoped.

This is also a very stressful position for the medical professionals who it is claimed made the error to be forced through the court system, when there is the alternative of mediation which gives the healthcare profession more dignity.
 Since mediation is confidential and not subjected to media intrusion the patients and medical professionals often prefer mediation reducing the risk of having details of medical issues, errors made and monetary awards reported in the media.
The conference is being held on 26th October 2018 at Riddle Hall, Stranmills Road, Belfast. the event is CPD accredited.