There are many definitions of mediations and many situations in which mediation can be used, ranging from disputes over noise between neighbours to international conflict situations. The scenarios may be different but the underlying principles of mediation remain the same. We use the following simple definition of mediation: “Mediation is a flexible, informal and confidential process, enabling people to resolve disagreements or disputes. It encourages the participants to reach their own mutually acceptable agreement facilitated by an impartial mediator.”
Confidential – The participants and the mediator conduct the mediation confidentially. The content is not disclosed outside of the mediation and any information provided in a private meeting with one party will not be shared with the other party unless it is agreed it can be shared.
Voluntary – Mediation can only take place if agreed to by all participants. Participants should therefore not feel pressurised into attending or believe that it could count against them if they decide not to take part. The mediation remains non binding until agreement is reached.
Participants work together to reach agreement – The process enables the participants to express their issues and concerns. The mediator encourages open communication and generation of ideas to achieve a win/win solution with the participants taking responsibility for the agreement reached.
Fast and flexible – A key advantage of mediation is that it can resolve issues before they escalate. It is possible to arrange a mediation session quickly and the whole process can be completed in a few days. The process itself is flexible to meet the needs of the particular situation.
One of the great benefits of using mediation is the high success rate. It is generally considered to be effective in around 80% of cases, with the percentage higher in workplace mediation.
Mediation works because unlike in other forms of dispute resolution, it addresses the emotional element of the disagreement. The process enables exploration of the issues and concerns of those involved, identifying what really matters and allowing them to understand the feelings of those they are in conflict with.
A key feature of the mediation process is its flexibility and the mediator will adapt the framework as necessary. Typically the stages in a mediation are:
Preparation - this will include the initial contact with the parties by the mediator to explain the process, deal with preliminary questions, gather any relevant background documentation and arrange time and place etc for the mediation
Mediation Day - typically a day is allocated to run a mediation. The mediator will settle the parties into separate rooms, discuss the format of the day and ensure the agreement to mediate is signed. An initial joint meeting will follow at which the parties have the opportunity to present their view of the situation without interruption. The mediator will then have joint or separate meetings with the parties during the day to establish the issues and then to work together to identify solutions and reach agreement which will be recorded.
Follow Up - there will normally be a follow up at an agreed time when the mediator will contact the parties to check how they are progressing.
The costs of mediation will vary depending on the situation, but the costs are almost invariably cheaper than the alternatives. For instance, in a workplace mediation scenario, the costs of dealing with a grievance that ends up in an employment tribunal are likely to exceed £10,000 (quite apart from the costs of business disruption). This could be ten times what it would cost to resolve the issue through mediation.
The terms and conditions for our mediation and training services can be viewed here.
Mediation4 carries out all mediations in accordance with a Code of Conduct based on the European Code of Conduct for Mediators. For a copy, click here.
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