How does it work?
Mediation is a voluntary and confidential process under which a trained neutral person seeks to help disputing parties to resolve the issues by mutual agreement.
The mediator does not act as a judge or arbitrator and does not make any findings or judgments about the conduct of the parties.
Mediation is a flexible process and there is no set way in which a mediation must be carried out. It is a pre-requisite of mediation that the parties agree to mediate. Communications between each party and the mediator are confidential except to the extent (if any) that the party authorises the mediator to disclose it to the other party/ies.
In addition, mediation often involves the following:
- the parties and the mediator entering into a written mediation agreement, setting out the ground rules and the basis for the mediation;
- the parties preparing brief initial written statements setting out their positions for the mediator, together with a selection of highly relevant documents;
- a series of meetings, usually in the course of a single day, between the mediator and the parties. At different times, these meetings may include both (or all) parties or just one party and the mediator;
- if agreement is ultimately reached, the parties entering into a written settlement agreement recording the terms of agreement.
Settlement is not guaranteed. However, mediation generally has a very good track record of resulting in settlement, even in cases where the parties were sceptical at the outset.
Mediation is not necessarily suitable for every dispute, but it is often suitable (and successful) in employment cases. Some of the advantages of mediation include the following:
- it can save substantial legal costs and time for all parties, as it can result in the settlement of a dispute which would otherwise go to a full Tribunal or Court hearing;
- it is conducted on a confidential and “without prejudice” basis, unlike Tribunal or Court hearings which are usually public;
- the parties are in control of the terms of settlement, so that they can include terms which a Court or Tribunal could not order (such as in relation to the future handling of relations between the parties).
In cases where we do not act for any of the parties to a dispute, we can provide an accredited and experienced person to act as mediator.
In cases where we do act for one or more of the parties to a dispute we can provide expert assistance and guidance throughout the mediation process.