What is mediation?
Mediation is a dispute resolution technique particularly suited where relationships need to be retained and a fast and cost effective solution is required. It involves a facilitated discussion and negotiation (led by a skilled independent mediator) with the aim of reaching an agreed way forward. Importantly a solution can not be imposed on the parties involved and the process is entirely voluntary – either party is able to pull out at any time.
The process is confidential and without prejudice meaning that no concession made in the mediation for the purposes of settlement discussions can be used in court proceedings.
How does the process work?
The mediator holds a series of joint and separate private meetings with the parties involved. The aim is to develop a thorough understanding of the dispute, its circumstances and also the potential avenues that can be explored to settle.
The mediator deals with each party in confidence and will not discuss anything said without express approval. The process usually involves both sides preparing a short case summary which is sent to the mediator in advance. The actual mediation usually takes a day although this can of course be longer for complex multi party disputes.
Why use a mediator?
- They are a neutral person without a stake in the outcome. This can often change the landscape of the dispute as their role is to provide a rational and objective perspective and as a result they are often in a better position to see an appropriate solution.
- Facilitate communication.
- Focus on the problem.
- Help each party understand the other party's case.
- Help the parties realistically assess their own case.
- Help parties overcome emotional blockages and save face.
- Explore settlement proposals in depth.
What are the benefits of mediation?
Put simply - it is quicker and cheaper than going to court.
Parties come to their own solution rather than having one imposed on them by the court. In many cases this means that relationships are often saved and that time and resources do not need to be wasted building new or replacement ones.
Although statistics vary, it is generally accepted that over 70% of mediations are successful. Even if settlement is not reached on the day many disputes settle soon after as a result of progress made during the mediation.