Mediation is viewed as the most cost-effective and least stressful way to settle disputes.
It isn’t like a courtroom or a tribunal and it doesn’t follow a set pattern. Mediation is in essence an entirely voluntary process of discussion, exploration and negotiation that is conducted confidentially and under the protection of without prejudice privilege by a neutral and impartial mediator, where the parties are themselves in control of any decision to settle and of the terms of any settlement that might be reached.
Critically also, is the reassurance that the parties are not obliged to agree at all and that if agreement simply cannot be reached, even with the expert help of a skilled mediator, the right still exists for the parties to seek ultimate adjudication of the dispute by going to court.
Now, the main reason of course for attempting mediation is to avoid going to court – and thereby the increasingly heavy costs and the inevitable delays that court action will always bring – so walking away from mediation without a good reason may not be the best move. It can take months and sometimes years to get the dispute heard in court. Conversely, mediation can be arranged in weeks and the cost is often a fraction of what you might expect if you go to court.
So how does it work? A mediator helps parties in dispute to negotiate solutions that make better sense than taking the fight to court! A mediator is not a Judge and will not take sides or impose their views on the parties. They will remain neutral and impartial at all times and will allow the parties themselves to remain in control both of the negotiations and of any outcome.
Mediations are held at venues agreed by the parties and private discussion rooms will be available. If the parties wish not to meet each other, the mediation may be conducted entirely in private session meetings, with the Mediator going from one private room to the other. It may be conducted as a joint session where the Mediator and the parties (with or without legal advisers) are together in one room. Or the mediation may involve a mix of the two. The mediator will discuss the most appropriate format with the parties but at Impact Mediation we always respect situations where parties do not wish to meet or to be in the same room.
Whatever procedure is adopted, the Mediator will help the parties to explore the issues, to consider what they want to achieve, and to identify all possible solutions. They may ask difficult questions and test entrenched positions. They do so however only with a view to developing new options for settlement.
The goal of mediation after all is to come up with a mutually beneficial solution that will hopefully prevent the dispute from spiralling out of control and ending up in court. If an agreement is reached it can be put into writing and signed by the parties.
What are the main benefits of mediation?
– mediation has no fixed pattern and all possibilities can be explored;
– the parties themselves make the decisions, not a Judge;
– damaged relationships can be salvaged or repaired;
– the costs are greatly reduced compared to court trial costs;
– there will be no costs order made against you, since you would not be losing the case;
– time delays can be avoided. Mediations can be arranged in weeks – a trial date could be months away;
– mediation is private & confidential – most trials are public;
– mediation provides ‘without prejudice’ protection – it is risk free;
– most mediations settle on the day of the mediation;
– it is still possible to go to court if agreement not reached;
– it is possible for both parties to win;
Without a doubt, mediation is the modern, flexible & efficient way to resolve disputes.