Meet the Focus Mediation team

Learn about our team of expert lawyer mediators, and how they can help your dispute

 

 

 

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Family team
Civil and commercial team

 

 

Family mediation team

Mary Banham-Hall LLB FMCA

Mary Banham-Hall LLB FMCA

Family Mediator, collaborative family lawyer, and founder of Focus Medation

A solicitor since 1979 and mediator since 1999, Mary has developed a reputation for supporting clients through one of life’s great ordeals: separation and divorce.

Mary is also a highly experienced mediator, based at Focus Mediation’s head office in Milton Keynes, but also sees clients in our Bedford office, and further afield for One Day Mediations. Mary’s practical, solution-based approach ensures a high resolution rate for people working with her.

Mary is a member of the Family Mediators’ Association and also of Resolution, so she is committed to a constructive and less adversarial approach to resolving family disputes. Mary’s Resolution accreditation in Advanced Financial Provision (substantial or complex cases and pensions) equips her to handle the most difficult cases – often helping clients save tens of thousands of pounds in tax, as well as protecting valuable final salary pensions.

Mary was one of the first 100 Collaborative Lawyers in the country and has resolved countless divorces in this way.

Pernilla Hatter LLB

Pernilla Hatter LLB

Family Mediator

Pernilla qualified as a solicitor in 1998 and went on to specialise solely in family law and train as a Family Mediator with Resolution. As a result Pernilla has a wealth of skills and experience to help you reach solutions to your family disputes such as separation, divorce, financial settlements and arrangements for your children. She is passionate in her belief that when relationships breakdown mediation is often a much better alternative to costly, lengthy and high conflict court proceedings. She understands that when emotions are running high talking face to face can seem extremely daunting. However with the guidance and support of an experienced family lawyer mediator the many benefits of mediation far outweigh other alternatives.

Jane Leadbeater

Jane Leadbeater

Family Mediator

Jane works at our Milton Keynes and Bedford office as a specialist family mediator. She as a wide range of experience of acting as a solicitor for married or co-habiting clients that are separating, especially on the financial aspects of separation and the arrangements for any children of the relationship. She represented clients through negotiations with their former partner’s solicitors and at court when in practice. So making the switch to mediation is against the background of a wealth of experience and knowledge that is relevant to her work as a mediator. She can give excellent legal information to couples, so they are able to make informed decisions about matters they must resolve.

Following gaining a First Class degree in Law at Birkbeck College, University of London, she qualified as a solicitor and specialised in Family Law, achieving the Resolution specialist accreditation in advanced financial provision and private children law. No slouch academically, Jane still saw that whilst important, the Law only takes you so far – and many family disputes are much better resolved in mediation. “In mediation emotional and practical factors and issues that really matter to people can be taken into account and they can work out what to do for themselves with help from me as a mediator, not as an advocate. It’s better for families, faster and more cost effective.” says Jane.

“Whilst some cases are best dealt with through negotiations through solicitors and may need court proceedings, it is far less than currently take this route. People should swap to mediation and out of litigation far more than they do – it can save them thousands and get it all sorted fast. Although mediation can be challenging, it has the potential to improve communication and relationships.

This not only greatly benefits any children of the relationship, but also enables the focus to be on the important decisions that need to be made on relationship breakdown, instead of on arguing. People can be much more in charge of their lives and their future.”

Civil and commercial mediation team

Mary Banham-Hall LLB FMCA

Mary Banham-Hall LLB FMCA

Commercial mediator and founder of Focus Mediation

Mary was admitted as a solicitor in 1979 and has developed a strong reputation as a highly experienced mediator. 

Whilst Mary still practices as a solicitor, she is passionate about mediation. She believes mediation is an effective, speedy and problem solving intervention, which is better for resolving most disputes than the law.

Mary trained as a commercial mediator with Henry Brown and her solution-based approach ensures a high resolution rate for her mediations. 
 
Mary is highly practical. She has a sense of proportion and adopts a commercial, business-like approach to solving disputes. Her role as founder and managing director of Focus Mediation has kept her busy since 1999. Focus has grown and developed a regional reputation for mediation, whether family or commercial. Mary’s favourite saying and the Focus slogan – is ‘Solve your problems, don’t fight over them’. 
Jean McDougall

Jean McDougall

Commercial mediator

An Independent Consultant and Mediator Jean specialises in the Human Resources Sector, but also deals with an enormous variety of other commercial and civil disputes. 

Jean has acted as a mediator in local and international recruitment, new business development, personnel management, relocation destination services (including spouse counselling and partner employment services), education, sales and marketing, and training. 

A Fellow of The Institute of Employment Consultants (now known as The Recruitment and Employment Confederation), Jean served three terms as elected Governor and two as Vice-President. She also served three years as elected member of the National Executive Council of Federation of Recruitment and Employment Services – Trade Body. 

 
Jean founded the Human Resource Educational Trust, which offers the internationally recognised Recruitment Practice Diploma. She is also a member of the Institute of Directors. She has over 30 years’ experience in personnel and recruitment, including 20 years in the serviced office sector and 12 years in the relocation industry. Jean’s extensive experience contributes to her high success rate as an accredited ADR mediator.
Julian Evans

Julian Evans

Commercial mediator

Julian has 20 years’ experience in conflict resolution. His previous roles centred on development planning and construction project design and management, from small-scale to strategic, which led him to sit on Corporate Management Teams for big organisations. He now specialises as a mediator working in commercial and civil mediation, family and business hybrid mediations and dealing with a variety of issues including workplace disputes. He also offers executive and psychological coaching. 

Julian also had a voluntary role to facilitate staff-to-management relations for 600 staff and was chief negotiator, mediator and coach for individual and corporate staff issues, which were many and varied. He now helps people from board level in listed multi-nationals through to small businesses and private citizens, using either mediation alone, or his ‘blended’ conflict resolution service for deep or wide-scale issues. 

Martin Banham-Hall

Martin Banham-Hall

Commercial mediator

Martin is an experienced Mediator (accredited by CEDR 2002), undertaking a broad range of commercial Mediations. He has particular interests in disputes concerning real estate, leases, partners and shareholders in small/medium-sized businesses, and contractual issues. He has undertaken Advanced Mediator training in managing high conflict disputes. Martin’s settlement rate in Mediation is very high.

His professional background is as a Solicitor since 1977 and he has been Senior Partner of a mid-sized commercial law firm since 1996. 
 
Those choosing Martin as Mediator have commented that he has the attributes needed to bring conflicted parties to agreement. Advanced negotiating skills, integrity, patience, determination, perceptiveness and sensitivity to the personal dynamics of a dispute are required of any Mediator. Martin adds to these the ability to gauge the most difficult legal, factual and emotive issues in a dispute, and to steer the parties towards those avenues most likely to bear fruit.
Dave Owen

Dave Owen

Commercial mediator

Dave’s background as a chartered surveyor and over 30 years of property development and investment work has given him very wide experience of dealing with potential and actual disputes. He sees mediation as being invaluable in resolving such disputes without incurring horrendous costs, both in management time and money.

As the owner of a property development and investment group, he is all too aware that management time is often diverted from creating value, rather than just dividing it. 

Aileen McDonald

Aileen McDonald

Commercial mediator

Aileen is a practising mediator and psychotherapist, with over twenty years’ experience as a corporate/commercial lawyer in private practice and industry and was formerly Company Secretary of British American Tobacco plc.

Aileen’s work as a psychotherapist, together with her strong commercial skills, make her ideally suited to facilitating the resolution of disputes between individuals and corporations. 

Mark Crane

Mark Crane

Commercial mediator

As a Civil and Commercial Mediator, Mark is a mature, pragmatic and capable professional with a Quantity Surveying background. Mark’s career has taken him across a varied and wide range of industry sectors. On route he has gained solid ADR experience having dealt with a wide range of issues and disputes.

When not acting as a Mediator or an Adjudicator, Mark’s day to day activity involves the settlement of contentious matters before the need for formal dispute resolution proceedings and/ or litigation. 
 
Areas of Expertise include:- 
 
• IT Contracts 
• Construction and Engineering 
• Marine 
• Rail Infrastructure 
• Defective Works 
• Facilities Management 
• Service Contracts 
• Framework Agreements 
• Property Leases / Landlord and Tenant 
• Boundary and Party Wall Disputes / Easements and Rights of Way 
• Professional Negligence 
• Insurance 
• Unpaid Invoices 
• Transport and Logistics 
Recent feedback for Mark includes: 
 
“…Mark’s ability to grasp the underlying issues very quickly was a real benefit to achieving a rapid settlement…” 
“…Marks relaxed style immediately put the participant’s as ease…” 
“…His no nonsense, straight forward approach was like a breath of fresh air…” 
Lawrence Harrison

Lawrence Harrison

Commercial mediator

Lawrence was formerly a partner in a leading London media law firm and co- founded and managed another. He has more than 20 years experience of finding solutions for clients in a broad range of situations and has been widely praised for his calm, efficient and very commercial approach. A good listener with a sympathetic and patient manner, Lawrence is passionate about mediation which he believes is better than litigation for resolving most disputes.

Lawrence read Law at UCL and Queens’ College, Cambridge. After a brief period at the bar he joined the Simkins Partnership specialising in the music and theatre industries, becoming a partner in 1992. In 1998 he left to found the specialist entertainment and media firm Harrison Curtis which merged with Russell-Cooke in 2005. 
 
Lawrence now divides his time between his work as a mediator and providing legal and commercial advice to a wide range of clients in the entertainment, media and creative industries. He is also a part time lecturer in law at the University of Westminster. 
Nicola Lewis FMCA

Nicola Lewis FMCA

Commercial mediator

Nicola’s background as a litigator and an employment law specialist has given her an insight into both the world of commercial litigation and dispute resolution in the workplace.

Latterly, in her legal career, Nicola also worked in the field of employment law rights in the workplace and then in European and WTO law.

“At the heart of a lot of the work I did, were disputes, many of which could have been better resolved via mediation or other ADR processes at a fraction of the time and cost, not to mention the stress involved in a court/tribunal action.”

This realisation led Nicola to qualifying as a CMC accredited mediator in 2011.

 
Nicola is experienced across a range of civil and commercial areas including:
  • Workplace and employment
  • Commercial/contractual disputes (supply of goods and services)
  • Residential property/Landlord and Tenant disputes
  • Family finance disputes
  • Inheritance disputes
  • Professional Negligence
  • Building disputes
  • Costs 
Nicola is also an experienced FMC accredited family mediator and works extensively in this area resolving both separation-related conflict and conflict between family members, including sibling disputes and intergenerational conflict. 
Nicola says: 
“I am totally committed to mediation – working hard with clients to help them draw up agreements which work for them without the waste of money, time and energy which court action involves.” 
“I bring with me a depth and breadth of experience in the field of conflict resolution working full time as an all issues mediator, supported by my legal background and my communication skills based on the principles of non-violent communication.” 
 
Some comments from clients: 
“Experienced, calm, professional, respectful, inspired confidence, held the space, understood the issues very quickly. She provided an invaluable service as X was able to speak, in a place of safety, and a difficult issue was resolved.” 
 
“You were very anchoring, clear and compassionate…. so glad you found your way to us and us to you.” 
 
“I think our mediation sessions made a tremendous difference and have enabled us to see more clearly.” 
 
“Brilliant mediator, very supportive.” 
 
“Extremely professional, kind and supportive, very patient to hear all of the issues involved within the mediation, I was so impressed.” 
 
“Thank you so much for your amazing help with the mediation yesterday. I will never forget your kindness, caring heart, and genuine warmth. I have so much respect for you and the incredibly rewarding work that you do. I shall honestly recommend you to everyone. You have no idea how much you have helped me. You have lifted a huge weight off my shoulders and helped me so much.” 
 
I have mediated in a broad range of conflicts and am committed to interest-based processes which do not require winners and losers and which cost less (in both human and financial terms) than embarking on the litigation route. 
Joanna Chawla FMCA

Joanna Chawla FMCA

Commercial mediator

Joanna worked for 10 years as a litigator. Practising as both a solicitor and a barrister she became a fervent supporter of mediation offering a quick, cost effective and workable solution for parties in conflict.

Away from the rigid, and costly framework of litigation, mediation allows clients to work collaboratively to unlock deadlock; and her friendly, hard working and intelligent approach helps parties to find a workable solution, quickly and cost effectively away from Court. 

Simon Aronsohn

Simon Aronsohn

Commercial mediator

Simon has been an accredited mediator since 2000. He has mediated or co-mediated more than 50 disputes including medical negligence matters, landlord and tenant issues, contractual and insurance disputes. He is a senior consultant to InterResolve and in 2012 completed an LLM in International Dispute Resolution at Queen Mary University of London.

Formerly a solicitor, Simon’s background includes nine years running his own firm, S Aronsohn & Co (solicitors) as a general practitioner, dealing with a wide variety of legal issues. He was also a Director of The Anglo- Group of companies, focused on work with the Former Soviet Union and a Director of Law Firm Ltd, which runs a bilingual website in English and Russian, advising Russian speakers on immigration matters. Simon has a working knowledge of Russian, French and German. 

Gill Rouse

Gill Rouse

Commercial mediator

Gill has extensive people management experience and particular skills in facilitation. She is able to quickly identify the key issues, using her calm, professional approach to questioning and listening, developed over many years in HR. Gill has a straightforward, open and honest approach, which allows her to build trust with the parties whilst maintaining her independence.

Gill has over 20 years’ experience in HR, Coaching and Change Management with blue chip companies, including 4 years’ work overseas. Formerly an HR Manager for 8 years with BT, the HR Development Director for AT&T-Unisource in The Netherlands and a Principal Consultant in the Change Management Practice at PriceWaterhouseCoopers. Gill has run her own HR and Change Management consultancy, People & Change, for over 9 years. 

Jonathan Lux

Jonathan Lux

Commercial mediator

Jonathan Lux has over 33 years’ experience behind him as a solicitor and partner at leading international commercial law firm Ince & Co, and 15 as a Mediator in commercial law; he acts as a Mediator and Arbitrator. He is well placed to take on Mediation and Arbitration cases that require a highly skilled and personal approach. Jonathan has the ability to grasp the key issues of a case quickly.

His vast experience and the range of Mediation and Arbitration cases that he has been involved with, have given him the tact and robustness that leads to a satisfactory conclusion, enabling all parties to cost-effectively put the case behind them and get on with their business. His wise guidance, flexible approach and excellent communications skills as a team player make him the right choice for contentious or straightforward mediation cases. 
 
He has lectured widely and written numerous articles on the subject of mediation, and is co-author of ADR and Commercial Disputes. Jonathan was awarded Global Shipping & Maritime Lawyer of the Year for both 2010 and 2011 by Who’s Who Legal. In December 2011 he featured in Lloyd’s List of Top Ten Legal Personalities and was a finalist for the Lloyd’s List global Shipping & Maritime Lawyer of the Year award 2012. 
 
Jonathan has received regular appointments as Mediator and Arbitrator both in relation to maritime disputes and international commercial law disputes more widely. He is a fluent French and German speaker making him much in demand for national and international mediations. 
MacDonald Mopho

MacDonald Mopho

Commercial mediator

He has an extensive and impressive professional legal background and became a CEDR accredited mediator in 2001. He was trained by and has worked alongside the late David Richbell and several other established mediators. MacDonald runs an independent consultancy and has held and serves on various advisory boards and panels including the CAB. His specialist areas include Contract and Construction disputes.

Professional Qualifications:
  • Member (MCIArb) Reg. 023117
  • The Chartered Institute of Arbitrators March 2006
  • Member, Mediation Steering Group for Global Professional Standards 2007-2008
  • CEDR Accredited Mediator
  • The Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution, CEDR January 2001 
  • Has obtained the Master of Laws, LL.M., in Advanced Legal Practice (Commercial Litigation) in 2000 from De Montfort University, Leicester England.
Nasreen Akhter

Nasreen Akhter

Commercial mediator

Having qualified as a solicitor in 2014, she routinely deals with  complex contested probate matters including with an international element.  As a solicitor, Nasreen specialises in all areas of Private Client and Family Matters.

Nasreen is an accredited civil and commercial mediator registered with CMC.  She adopts a focused and simple approach in mediation, drawing on her considerable experience in Wills, Probate and Family matters as a solicitor.

Her approach to mediation is to identify the key issues swiftly whilst being present to the concerns of the parties with view to highlighting the common grounds.  Nasreen has the ability to listen attentively.  She understands the areas of conflict instantly and courteously brings them to the attention of the parties.  As a mediator she facilitates the parties in arriving at a solution to their problems without the need to resort to Court.

Nasreen has recently completed a Leadership training programme which has further enhanced her communication skills and the ability to lead a mediation authoritatively whilst maintaining a humane connection with all the parties. 

Nasreen previously worked in Dubai, predominantly dealing with estate planning for high net worth clients.

Nasreen is proficient in communicating in Urdu, Punjabi and Hindi.