Arbuthnot, a 30-year-old cricketing all-rounder, is contracted on a long-term basis to play for Borsetshire, a cricket club that plays in the English Minor Counties League. In recent seasons, Borsetshire have performed very well and are hoping to be granted full first-class status in the next five years. This is partly due to Arbuthnot’s significant all-around contribution, hence him being the club’s highest remunerated player.

Understandably, many Borsetshire supporters idolise Arbuthnot. However, although his contribution to the club’s success is readily acknowledged, some of the members of its cricket committee have reservations. They see Arbuthnot as arrogant and self-centred. He is often late for training sessions and repeatedly gives unauthorised press interviews in which he is openly critical of some of the less accomplished members of the Borsetshire team. He has also come into conflict with the club’s main sponsor and there have also been suggestions that he is the “leader” of what is seen as a disenchanted group of supporters and second eleven players. Inevitably Arbuthnot has attracted unwelcome publicity and at least two first class counties have publicly stated that they would not consider signing him because of what they see as his” very poor disciplinary record.”

Borsetshire’s chief executive, Larry, and its chairman, Curly, are very concerned. In one sense they cannot afford to lose Arbuthnot but at the same time, they do wonder who is actually running the club. In the light of some recent incidents, and against their better judgment, disciplinary proceedings are commenced.  A formal hearing is convened in the club pavilion at which Arbuthnot is represented by both a solicitor and a barrister. The barrister adopts a very bullish stance, claims that his client is being scapegoated and disrupts the proceedings. In an effort to try and ensure that some semblance of dignity is retained, the club secretary, Mo, suggests that the matter should be referred to mediation.

Mo attends the mediation of behalf of Borsetshire. Arbuthnot is accompanied by his solicitor. During an initial private session Mo concedes to the mediator that he has previously reminded Larry and Curly that although there are understandable concerns about Arbuthnot’s behaviour, in truth he is Borsetshire’s one really good, top class player and that aside from his valuable contributions to the club’s success, retaining his services and publicly demonstrating that his temperament can be accommodated will show that it can keep hold of its talent. This in turn will help it to attract other high-quality players. He also concedes out that Arbuthnot is by no means the only unruly English cricketer and suggests that the club is partly to blame for its present predicament because it has been too indulgent of their star player and turned a blind eye to his misdeeds.

Stressing that he has good intentions and would like to try and resolve matters informally, Mo also asks the mediator to pass on something to Arbuthnot. He says that that although it may be perceived that Borsetshire needs Arbuthnot, equally Arbuthnot needs Borsetshire. Mo continues stating that if Arbuthnot continues to behave as he has done, even though the club may suffer, his contract will be terminated and that he will lose his livelihood.

Responding to all of this in a private session, Arbuthnot concedes that he has perhaps been a bit over the top. However, he suggests that he is being scapegoated for things that are wrong with the club and that contrary to what the press has reported he has had nothing to do with any recalcitrant players or supporters.  After some further reflection he indicates that he is prepared to meet Borsetshire “half way” and find a way forward.

The matter is resolved informally. It is agreed that a line will be drawn. The disciplinary allegations are withdrawn but that matters will be kept under review. Arbuthnot agrees that he will moderate his behaviour, that if in future he has any concerns he will raise them with the club’s cricket committee and that he will not give any more unauthorised press interviews.

Both “sides” to the dispute are very relieved that a lot of unwelcome publicity has been avoided.  When prompted by his solicitor who is also very happy with matters, Arbuthnot acknowledges that mediation is indeed a safe, confidential and very effective process.

Principal Director of ASMADR, civil/commercial, workplace, employment, family and educational mediator and trainer with a judicial/legal background. He has knowledge and expertise in dispute resolution in a wide range of areas and disciplines and mediates online.