Mediation is one form of alternative dispute resolution or ADR. It is simply a method of negotiating a solution to a dispute. The difference between mediation and other types of negotiation is that a neutral third party – the Mediator – facilitates the negotiations and helps unlock any deadlocks that occur. The Mediator’s role is not to judge which side is “right” but rather to help the parties find their own solution which each side can live with.
What happens before the Mediation?
I contact the parties to make sure they know what will happen on the day and run through the procedure. I make arrangements with the parties for the date, time and venue. The parties provide me with relevant papers, their brief position statements and pay my mediation fees.
What happens at the Mediation?
I greet the parties as they arrive and show them to the private room that they have for the day. We usually start together in a joint opening meeting. I explain the procedure and reminded everyone that mediation is voluntary and confidential and then I give each party the opportunity to speak to their opponents. This is a chance to explain what is important to you about the case or to clarify your position. The meeting will continue as long as there is a useful exchange of information. There are no strict rules about what should happen at mediation and this procedure is often changed depending on circumstances.
Is Mediation confidential?
After the opening meeting the parties go to their respective private rooms. I go from one side to the other. The discussions we have in the private rooms are confidential. I do not pass anything on without the express permission of the party concerned. The purpose of the meetings is to allow the parties to explore solutions and eventually find a resolution which all sides can agree to.
Is the Mediation binding?
If agreement has been reached it is written up – usually by legal representatives – and signed. Once the agreement is signed it is binding. If court proceedings have been started the agreement will be lodged at court and a formal court order made. The parties can go back to court to enforce an agreement if one party defaults but this is very rare, largely because the parties have themselves come up with the solution, it is not one that has been foisted upon them by a judge or arbitrator.