Spotlight Profile – Jacky T. K. Lai, Mediator

Jacky Lai
Apr 28, 2023

In this spotlight profile, we are speaking to Jacky T.K. Lai, a mediator and barrister at IceHouse Chambers in Hong Kong.  Jacky is a mediator and mediation advocate with experience in over 850 cases that includes disputes involving children and finances.  Jacky has also utilized his expertise as a mediator to train others in the field (as Trainer with Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (HKIAC), Training Qualifications UK (TQUK)/The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) and Hong Kong Professional Mediation Association (HKPMA), and as Coach with many other institutions).

Jacky, thank you for taking the time to speak with us today.

Can you tell us a little bit about your background and training?

I am a barrister called to the Bar in June 2007, mediator, arbitrator and lecturer on mediation and negotiation topics for universities and mediation institutions.  I like to mediate on various sorts of cases including matrimonial matters.  I find resolving conflicts through interest-based negotiations very satisfying, and I am grateful for the trust that I receive from the parties and learned friends.

I received my general mediation training in 2008 from the Accord Group in liaison with HKUSPACE, and my matrimonial mediation training in 2010 from Hong Kong Catholic Marriage Advisory Council (CMAC).

You have considerable expertise in your role as a mediator and as a mediation advocate.  First, can you tell us why you advocate mediation first in any legal dispute?

Parties usually have too much information but lack of insight.  With their entrenched long-time hatred towards one-another they become too emotionally entangled and entwined into an “Avenger” mentality, thereby losing sight of other dimensions and bigger goals in their lives.  They often get tunnel-vision.  Mediation gives them an opportunity to zoom-out and to hear from each other.  Once communication starts, then understanding at a deeper level can commence.  Of course, the parties may still choose not to settle, yet it is ensured that it is an informed decision, and not because of a lack of communication nor mutual understanding.

You have worked in numerous mediations and in various disputes not only matrimonial disputes. Is there a common theme that you notice in all your mediations that results in a successful mediation? Is compromise the key element to a successful mediation?

The common themes are: broader outlook on the disputes, new dimensions and new observations on life and the issues, a more realistic and a more objective assessment of the law, the facts and the evidence, as well as the perspectives of the opponents.  Sometimes, they just need a platform, a facilitator, a face-saving setting to settle the case.   We mediators are the catalyst in the sessions.

Compromise is NOT a key element to a successful mediation.  Compromise is only a minimalist approach towards settlement.

What works in mediation is: Collaboration. Understanding. Communication. Objectivity. Positivity.  Rethinking.

What can couples do to prepare for a successful mediation?

Have a pre-mediation meeting with a good mediator accompanied by their solicitor/counsel and supported by a trusted and beloved one.  The pros and cons, the costs and benefits and the strategy and tactics, are all re-examined thoroughly, in a safe environment, and the couples are empowered to make decisions.  Of course, trust and rapport are being built throughout the process, and the trauma, pains, suffering and fears are being acknowledged and addressed as well.  If the wound is not healed, at least antiseptic is applied and a bandage is attached to it.  Active listening and empathy are the key elements.

Through your experience, you have come across mediations where a resolution is simply unattainable.  In your matrimonial mediations, what has been the key element of an unsuccessful mediation?

Inadequate insight, mutual understanding, active listening, rethinking, new dimensions or outlook of everything else are common themes.  Tunnel-vision and inadequate wisdom and courage to walk a new path, objectivity, positivity are also common themes.  Many times, the root is insufficient love towards themselves and the children.

In a nutshell, what is lacking is the absence of the essential elements of interested-based negotiations.


About Jacky Tsk Kin Lai, Mediator and Barrister at IceHouse Chambers
Jacky T.K. Lai, a mediator and barrister at IceHouse Chambers in Hong Kong.  Jacky has been a mediator and mediation advocate in over 850 cases that includes disputes involving children and finances.  Jacky has also utilized his expertise as a mediator to train others in the field.
Jacky has been a barrister-at-law in private practice in Hong Kong since 2007. He practices in civil and criminal litigation as well as mediation. Jacky received his Bachelors Degree in Economics and LLM from the University of Hong Kong, MBA from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and LLB from Manchester Metropolitan University. He obtained his HKIAC Accreditation as General Mediator in 2009 and Family Mediator in 2012 by the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (HKIAC), and the Hong Kong Mediation Accreditation Association (HKMAAL) Panels of General and Family Mediator since its inception in 2012.
Jacky has been a member of the HKIAC Users’ Council since 2009.  He is the Chairman of the General Mediation Division (GMD) under the Hong Kong Mediation Council and person-in-charge of the Council’s Membership Committee.  He was the Honorary Secretary of Hong Kong Mediation Council (HKMC) under the HKIAC last year, and member of HKIAC’s General Mediation Interest Group. He acted as Vice-Chairman of the HKIC Family Mediation Interest Group, Person-in-charge of Building Management Sub-Group and Person-in-charge of Labour and Employment Mediation Sub-Group. An HKMAAL accredited mediator (General and Family), he has served as a mediator in hundreds of cases.
Jacky has a wealth of teaching, coaching and judging experiences with many universities in Hong Kong with particular emphasis on Mediation and ADR. He is Head Trainer and Chief Assessor of mediation course for Training Qualifications UK, Office of Qualifications and Examination Assessment (TQUK/ Ofqual) and Assistant Head Trainer of HKMAAL 40-hour curriculum, Mediation Subject Expert of Hong Kong Council for Accreditation of Academic and Vocational Qualifications and International Mediation Competition Coach and Judge of International Chamber of Commerce, Professional Mediator on many mediation panels and mentor mediator for the Joint Mediation Helpline Office.
黎子健先生  LLB, LLM (HKU), BSocSc, MBA, FHKI Arb, MCIArb
黎先生自 2007 年起在香港擔任私人執業大律師。他的執業領域包括民事和刑事訴訟以及調解。 黎先生在香港大學獲得經濟學學士學位和法學碩士學位,在香港中文大學獲得工商管理碩士學位,在曼徹斯特都會大學獲得法學學士學位。他分別於 2009 年和 2012 年獲得了香港國際仲裁中心(仲裁中心)認可的一般調解員和家事調解員資格,並於 2012 年香港調解資歷評審協會有限公司(調解資歷評審協會)成立起獲得其一般調解員和家事調解員資格。
黎先生自 2009 年起擔任仲裁中心益友會成員,也是仲裁中心轄下的香港調解會(調解會)的榮譽秘書,且任仲裁中心一般調解興趣小組成員。他曾為仲裁中心家事調解小組的副主席、物業管理調解推廣小組負責人和勞工及僱傭關係推廣小組負責人。 作為調解資歷評審協會認可的調解員(一般和家事),他曾在數百個案件中擔任調解員。
黎先生在香港多所大學擁有豐富的教學、培訓和評審經驗,尤其重視調解和其他替代性糾紛解決方式。 他是英國特許資歷培訓處/評核及考試規例局認可的調解課程的首席培訓師和首席評估員、調解資歷評審協會40小時課程的助理首席授課者、香港學術及職業資歷評審局的調解事項專家、 International Chamber of Commerce國際調解比賽教練和評委、多個調解小組的專業調解員和 聯合調解專線辦事處的導師調解員。
Telephone : (852) 2186 1810