Mediation is an informal process in which a neutral, impartial third party – the Mediator – helps disputing parties explore their issues, consider options and work together to reach an agreement to resolve their issues.
The parties make their own decisions, the Mediator does not give advice or tell anyone what to do.
The process is positive and constructive. It concentrates on problem solving, rather than on placing blame. The aim is to find a win/win agreement – one that focuses on people’s interests and is acceptable to all parties.
Yes – nothing will be shared with other parties involved in the dispute without your permission. The Mediator will ask everyone to be frank and open with one another, on the understanding that all discussions are ‘without prejudice’, i.e. nothing said in mediation can be used against you later. Whilst the Mediator controls the process, you are in control of the content – you decide what you say.
If your case has been referred through an agency, the Mediator will ask for permission to share your agreement with the person who made the referral. The Mediator will ensure that anything you do not wish to disclose to them remains confidential.
The Mediator’s brief case notes and a copy of your agreement are held in accordance with the current data protection legislation. Any rough notes made during sessions will be destroyed.
There is an exception to the confidentiality rule. If the Mediator hears of any safeguarding issues or any risk of harm or unlawful activity, they may have a professional and ethical obligation to report this to an appropriate authority.
Mediation begins with each party having a private meeting with the Mediator, who will explain the process and their role and agree some “ground rules” for the process. The Mediator will then want to hear about your views on the situation. The Mediator will also ensure that mediation is a suitable way forward for you in your own particular circumstances (and if not, can help you to consider other possibilities).
The next step is the joint meeting. Before bringing parties together, the Mediator will ensure that everyone has a realistic expectation of what can be achieved through mediation.
At the start of the joint meeting, the Mediator will check that everyone understands the process and agrees to the “ground rules”. Then, each person is given time to outline their issues. Next, taking each issue in turn, the Mediator help everyone to understand one another’s views and explore ideas for resolving the issue. As the meeting progresses, all points of agreement are noted. By the end of the meeting, you will have a win/win agreement – one that focuses on people’s interests and is acceptable to all parties.
Usually, the mediation process requires up to three hours of your time – one hour for an initial meeting with the Mediator and up to two hours for a joint meeting with the Mediator and all the parties.
Very occasionally, parties can agree to arrange a second joint mediation session.
Understandably, sitting down and talking to the other person can be difficult for some people. What might the alternative be? If you are in dispute with a neighbour, the chances are you will meet in the street at some time. If your disagreement is with someone at work, you will have to somehow find a way to work together. A joint meeting offers a safe space where you can discuss your differences and reach agreement at a comfortable pace. The Mediator is there to help get the conversation started and to manage the meeting. If anyone feels they need to, they can take a short break before resuming, or they may even end the session.
Where Mediators or clients feel that a joint meeting really isn’t appropriate, then perhaps what is called ‘Shuttle Mediation’ is the way forward. Parties are in separate rooms and the Mediator carries messages between them. This approach makes the process much slower and you lose the advantage of being able to communicate directly with the other party, when you could immediately clear up any inaccuracies or misunderstandings.
So long as the issues are ones which parties have the authority to settle and all parties are prepared to work together to negotiate an agreement, then yes, the case is suitable for mediation.
Even long-standing, complex and bitter conflicts can be resolved through mediation, provided parties are ready to talk and are prepared to make changes.
The Mediator is there to help people through the process, supporting people who feel less confident, or are concerned that their emotions might get in the way of clear thinking. The Mediator can help them to articulate their needs and find workable solutions.
However, there may be times when, with the best will in the world, parties are unable to reach agreement. If there really is a genuine disagreement in good faith, the Mediator can help the parties to explore where they can go next.
The Mediator is there to assist all the parties in a dispute but never take sides. Mediators don’t make judgements about who is right or wrong, nor do they give advice or make any decisions for you. They may ask probing questions, but they are trained to be impartial throughout. They will ensure that everyone is able to say what they want to say on an equal footing.
You are in control – you make decisions jointly with the other party/parties and you can stop the mediation process at any time if you feel it is not working for you.
Ideally, mediation will be chosen as the first step towards resolving a dispute, but it can be used at any stage of a dispute, so long as people are willing to .
Another common use of mediation is more akin to dispute prevention than dispute resolution. Parties may seek the assistance of a mediator in the course of negotiations for an agreement where the negotiations have reached an impasse, but where the parties consider it to be clearly in their economic interests to conclude the agreement (for example, negotiations on the royalty rate to apply on the renewal of a license).
If your case has been referred by an agency the Mediator has a contract with, there is no charge to you.
Otherwise, the Mediator will agree a low cost fixed fee which will cover administration costs and the Mediator’s time. Expenses, such as room hire, will also be charged for. Usually, this fee will be borne in equal shares by the parties. The parties are free to agree to change this allocation of costs.
Since each Consortium member’s core costs are minimal, we can offer very competitive rates for our various services, which can be tailored to your specific needs. You can request a quote by emailing us at email@example.com or you can contact a Consortium Member directly if you would like ask any questions before making a referral.
If you would like to know more about our services or you would like to refer a case for mediation, please email us: firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also contact a Consortium Member directly if you would like ask any questions before making a referral.