Here are some of the key benefits of following the mediation route to the settlement of a dispute:
Because the parties themselves agree the outcome, they remain in control of the mediation process.
Mediation is confidential to the parties.
The parties choose their mediator, the location and the time at which the mediation is to be held.
Compared to traditional litigation, mediation is a considerably less expensive way of solving problems.
Since the mediation is separate from the court process, there is a much broader variety of settlement options possible.
The informality of the mediation process makes it more likely that you will remain on solid business terms with the other side at the end of the dispute.
Mediations can be set up quickly, and the sessions themselves usually last no more than a single day.
The success rate for mediations is very high. Statistics show that over two-thirds of mediations settle effectively.
What is Mediation?
Mediation is a process where a neutral person – the mediator – works with people who have a disagreement to help them to find their own solution that will sort out their problem or improve the situation. The mediator won’t take sides or judge who is right or wrong.
So with mediation we are not looking for any specific outcome other than an improvement of the present situation.
It is a voluntary process undertaken by willing participants. The mediator will hold initial meetings and then a joint confidential meeting with the parties. The mediator must be neutral for the success of the process and ensure no sides are taken. The aim of the meeting is to try to resolve the disagreement by trying to get the parties to find their own solutions and reach some agreements which will be written up. Although non-binding the agreement will be signed and agreed by the parties by the end of the session and will then be worked towards by both sides.
The facilitative model of Mediation is a 5 stage process:
- Initial first contact with all the people involved - this is to gather some initial information, explain the process and decide if mediation is the correct way forward. It is important to prepare the individuals for the meeting and ensure they understand the process.
- Setting the scene - this is the introductory stage for the mediator at the joint meeting. During the initial stages of the joint meeting both parties will go through the opening statements and the mediator will clarify the issues for discussion.
- Exploring the issues - where the mediator has summarised and produced an agenda of issues to work through s/he then begins going through each issue gaining views from both sides and pulling together possible offered solutions from both sides.
- Building agreements - when any agreement is reached then the mediator pulls together agreement statements onto an agreement document. However small the agreement, the document shows the progress being made.
- Closure - where the final agreement is signed by all present and follow up actions are discussed and agreed such as communication of the agreement and further review meetings.
During mediation, mediators:
- Encourage disputing parties to engage in mediation and consider the benefits of discussing their differences and seeking a mutually acceptable resolution.
- Establish a safe and constructive environment in which parties can talk and listen to each other.
- Encourage parties to describe with clarity and purpose how they view the situation and enable them to view it from the other’s point of view.
- Help the parties to identify and discuss key issues and concerns and encourage parties to use non-violent and non-blaming language.
- Enable the parties to explore a range of options and determine what results would be acceptable.
- Identify ways to help them achieve those results and agree a way forward. Mediators help parties agree on a series of small steps.