Jody Sin Kar Yu is “an established figure” in the Hong Kong market, renowned for conducting “excellent” facilitative and evaluative mediations.
Jody Sin is a solicitor in Hong Kong and has worked in major international law firms where she has specialised in civil litigation and dispute resolution. Since October 2011, Ms Sin has run a full-time commercial mediation practice. She is also an adjunct professor with the University of Hong Kong School of Professional And Continuing Education, where she teaches accredited mediation courses as well as programmes on mediation, negotiation and conflict resolution. Additionally, Ms Sin is a certified conflict management coach (CINERGY), and provides conflict coaching services to parties who encounter workplace issues and disputes.
Describe your career to date.
I am currently a full-time mediation practitioner, and mediate a broad array of disputes, including employment, discrimination and workplace issues, professional indemnity claims involving solicitors, barristers, doctors and accountants, shareholders and partnership disputes, defamation, intellectual property, personal injuries, probate disputes, and financial disputes in matrimonial matters. Apart from local accreditation by HKIAC, HKMAAL and Hong Kong Law Society, I have received certification and accreditation from distinguished institutions outside Hong Kong, including the International Mediation Institute (IMI), Qianhai International Litigation and Mediation Centre under Qianhai Court in the People’s Republic of China. I am also a panel mediator at the United Nations Office of the Ombudsman, Global Mediation Panel and the Mediation Mechanism and Investment Agreement between HKSAR and Mainland China under the Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement.
In 2019, I was awarded the JAMS Weinstein International Fellowship. Currently, I am the vice-chairperson of the Hong Kong Mediation Council, a division of Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre. I have been a Distinguished Fellow of International Academy of Mediators (IAM) since 2016 and became a member of the Board of Governors in 2020.
What do you enjoy most about practising mediation?
I enjoy how the process of mediation helps the parties to gain more clarity about themselves and the dispute, and how it also transforms their adversarial mindset to a problem-solving one. They are empowered to make wise decisions, and to resolve problems based on their major considerations and concerns.
What do clients look for in an effective mediator?
For disputing parties, an effective mediator is able to listen and understand their needs, concerns and emotions. She is trustworthy in the eyes of the parties. She will have foresight about the mediation process and will plan the appropriate interventions for the process ahead. Clients also expect the mediator to assist them in the negotiation and help them to devise strategies. An effective mediator is always prepared to go the extra mile to help the parties move towards closure in the end.
Has covid-19 had an impact on mediation proceedings? Are parties willing to be flexible in procedure and approach to get cases over the line?
Covid-19 has had some positive impact on mediation proceedings. A lot of the mediation sessions have changed from face-to-face to a full online or a hybrid model. Patries have demonstrated a lot of understanding of the limitations caused by social distancing in the mediation process. They have been willing to be cooperative in terms of safety precautions, such as wearing masks during the process and limiting the number of attendees. They have been more patient and empathic when there are technical difficulties and glitches in the online sessions. They are willing to prepare more for the negotiation, as they appreciate the limitations of what can be achieved in an online process.
What insights have you gained from working with a spectrum of clients, including international corporations and listed companies?
It is essential to understand the power dynamics in major corporations. A mediator should identify the key decision-makers and reach out to them before the mediation as they are the targets for persuasion in the process. A mediator should also understand the mode of decision-making in these organisations and manage the expectations of all the parties involved. Good rapport should also be established with the legal advisors or those who are able to influence the decision-makers.
Clients often like the mediator to share her diagnosis of the conflict, her perspective on various issues, as well as process planning, legal issues and what they could do to order to achieve their goals in the mediation.
What trends are you seeing emerging in the types of disputes currently going to mediation?
I see a lot of disputes involving parties from different jurisdictions, and their advising team may also come from different places and cultures. The mediator should have a lot of cultural sensitivity and respect the differences of the parties due to culture, gender, age, ethnic origins etc.
While parties are increasingly familiar with the mediation process, they expect the mediator to have a deeper understanding of the issues, and proactively help them to move the process forward. Hence a mediator should diagnose the status of the conflict before the process begins, identify the interests of the parties and the possible avenues enabling them to move towards resolution. The mediator should do more preparation before the day of mediation, anticipate how the process will roll out and devise strategies in advance.
What do you consider to be the most significant opportunities and challenges facing mediators over the next five years?
There is an increasing demand for mediation services in different parts of the world which present abundant opportunities for mediators to grow their practice. Mediators should reflect their unique values in their practice and highlight how these values may serve clients well. In doing so, mediators will be able to identify the focus appropriate for their profile and practice. At the same time, there will be keen competition due to the growing population of mediators. As a result, it will be challenging to keep yourself, and your skillset, relevant and in demand.
What advice would you give to younger practitioners hoping to one day be in your position?
Young practitioners should continue to equip themselves with the knowledge, skills and techniques of mediation. The theories and concepts behind mediation, the psychology of the parties, eg, their emotions, how people make decisions, theories of trust are the root of the relationship problems between disputants. Mediation is an evolving subject. The best preparation that young mediators can do to get ready for future opportunities and challenges is to keep up their passion for learning and to keep practising the skills they have acquired.