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Michael Cohen Tribute

A photograph of Michael Cohen
Michael Cohen

When you work in the same sector for most of your life you meet many people and some leave more of a mark on you than others.

Michael Cohen was one of the first arbitrators I worked with when I joined the CIArb in 1995. He was an arbitrator on the Personal Insurance Arbitration Service until it was whisked away from us by the government to become part of the Financial Ombudsman Service.

My first phone calls with Michael were quite frosty. He rubbed me up the wrong way and 25 year old me reacted in the wrong way. We eventually met towards the end of the 90s when he invited me to lunch at Gray's Inn. The first thing he said to me when we met in person was “Well you aren’t what I was expecting”. I looked back at him and laughed and said “Well, neither are you”. A second passed and he burst in to laughter and took my arm and in to halls we went.

We were joined that day by Nicola. Lunch was lovely. I was always in awe of those kind of events being from a small northern town and learning some of the history of Gray's Inn was fascinating. I thought it had gone well until right at the end when I said “Thank you that was lovely, and it’s so nice to meet your wife”. Someone who was not taken aback often, Michael just gazed at me, eyes narrowing, before saying

Gregory, Nicola is my daughter…

Over the following decade or so we had many more meetings and a few lunches as the Academy of Experts were on the same mediation committees as the CIArb and CEDR, and I would often see Michael, and Nicola, and we would share stories and have a good laugh about the world around us.

When my eldest was born in 2000 Michael and Nicola bought us a lovely illustrated book which we do still have but it is in the attic now (24 years later). But I remember me and my wife, Ellie, being genuinely touched by the present and the message it came with.

People come and go through life. I haven’t seen Michael probably for 10-15 years, but he will always be one of those characters I look back at fondly, and is a classic reminder that sometimes first impressions are completely wrong.

Ellie and I offer my condolences to Nicola and family and to the Academy of Experts at this sad time. I will remember Michael’s acerbic wit and cheeky grin fondly.

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