Can mediation really be that life-changing? We ask Marina Chin SC

SIMC Specialist Mediator and TKQP Joint Managing Partner Marina Chin SC admits to being “uncompromising” as a litigator. But over the years, as she becomes more involved in mediation, “understanding other people’s views, other perspectives is actually important,” she says, and all the more so as mediator.

Watch the full interview or read the interview transcript below. We thank Marina for sharing her views.

“When you step out from mediation, whatever the outcome happy or otherwise, you actually participated in that outcome, and even more wonderful where you have a happy ending.”


I’m Marina. I’m a Joint Managing Partner of TKQP, a boutique dispute resolution firm. I have been in practice for 30 years and counting. In all that time, I’ve always been involved in dispute resolution work. Initially, litigation then along the way arbitration. And of course, over the years, increasingly mediation as well.

My natural self is actually one where everything is very clear in black and white. The right and wrong is very clear to me and I can be uncompromising; my partners will tell you so. But I have learned over the years that there are a lot of grey zones and there are a lot of other perspectives, and it’s not just my view that may be the most important in as much as I may hold on to my view, but I think it’s understanding other people’s views, other perspectives is actually important. And that becomes actually very valuable in the context of mediation.

Q: Can you share with us a case you mediated at SIMC?

It was a great privilege to co-mediate with George. I have had him as mediator before, but I think it was quite different.

Because when you’re just the counsel, you only see one part of it. Here, there was the thought process of what to say, when to say it, how to say, which is actually very, very important for the role of mediator, because you’ve got to come across balanced, you have to come across fair, but you must also know when to convey some of these things.

(In that case) I believe the turning point came when one of the parties shared that he really wanted to put the case behind him because he wanted to retire. And there was a major operation that he had to go through the following week. We got him to share that with the counterparty. And the counterparty, actually, then felt sorry and began to appreciate the sincerity of the offer on the table understanding that this chap was serious and was real about wanting to reach settlement.

It was wonderful to sit there and watch and be part of this process that ended so happily. In some ways, it’s almost incredible that within a space of just maybe 8 – 10 hours, parties who were so far apart can actually meet somewhere along the line.

Q: How does it feel to walk out of the courtroom, versus walking out of a mediation?

When you step off a court room, and you don’t have a decision yet, there is this big question mark, how’s it gonna go? You may feel very confident about your case. But really end of the day things can go wrong and sometimes do go wrong. In contrast, I think when you step out from mediation, whatever the outcome happy or otherwise, you actually participated in that outcome, and even more wonderful where you have a happy ending because you have helped to write that story together, and you have consented to it.

Mediation to me actually, really is the chance for two disputing parties to come together to write a common story, one that they can both agree on, instead of the previous story they were telling, which is like poles apart, and to have that chance to have that happy ever after story, and to participate in it.