A MEDIATED SETTLEMENT RECORDED ON BIRCH BARK. One of the first formal mediations I became familiar with was occasioned by a dispute over many millions of dollars, which was settled by the businessmen engaged in the mediation by an agreement on a new and entirely independent transaction (having nothing to do with the dispute), also involving millions of dollars. I thought of this when I read the translation of “Novgorod birch-bark letter â„–366, about 1360-1380 A.D. Case of trampled wheat, release”, an Example in the wikipedia entry for “Birch Bark Manuscript”.

This is the translation: “Here, Yakov has settled with Gyurgiy and with Hariton by courtless deed Gyurgiy has gotten [at court] concerning trampled [by horses] wheat and Hariton concerning his loss. Gyurgiy got one rouble [money], three grivnas [money], and basket [measure] of wheat for all that, and Hariton got ten cubits of cloth and one grivna. And Gyurgiy and Hariton have no more concern to Yakov, nor Yakov to Gyurgiy and Hariton. And witnesses to that are Davyd, son of Luka, and Stepan Taishin.”

This is a record that has survived over 600 years of a settlement of a dispute over horses trampling a farmer’s wheat. There was evidently a court available to the parties, but the parties chose instead to use what would be called today “alternative dispute resolution”.

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