Frequently Asked Questions
Mediation for many may be a new and unknown process and therefore to help make people feeling more relaxed about the positive and empowering conflict resolution process that is mediation, here are some frequently asked questions.
What Is Mediation?
Mediation is a highly effective, flexible, voluntary and confidential form of alternative dispute resolution in which a neutral third party, the mediator, assists parties to work towards an agreement to help settle their disputes. It is often described as a form of alternative or informal dispute resolution as it’s less formal the the traditional court process or in the context of the workplace, than grievance and disciplinary procedures.
What are we trying to achieve with Mediation?
To aim of mediation to settle the dispute in a safe, supportive, confidential environment where parties are equals. The mediator will listen to all views, talking to you privately, and sometimes together with the other party, to help guide you through the process.
Throughout the process the parties retain control of the decision whether or not to settle and on what terms and therefore, unlike a judge or jury, the mediator will not decide the case on its merits but will use their skills at identifying and exploring the issues which may be sticking points to a deal and work with both parties to facilitate an agreement that both are content with.
What does Mediation offer me?
In situations that are tense, it is difficult to trust the intentions and motivations of the “other side” and you may be experience feelings of low self-esteem, lack of confidence, uncertainty or hopelessness. However, it is important to start from with a positive frame of mind and consider how mediation may help this situation.
Mediation offers you:
Control – this is your mediation and therefore you are in control of the outcome.
Confidentiality – what is discussed in the meeting will not be discussed outside of the meetings with anyone unless with your express permission. The need to uphold confidentiality applies not only to the mediator but all parties to the mediation. Nothing said in the mediation can be used in any future processes.
Communication – the mediation process allows for channels of communication to be opened in a safe, secure environment allowing for an open, honest, frank conversation, and affording you the opportunity to lay all your cards on the table with no fear of repercussions.
Impartiality – you will not be judged as a part of this process. The mediator is there to help facilitate discussions and help find and explores areas of compromise. They are not there to make decisions on the merits of the dispute or make judgement about parties' involvement or behaviours.
Structure and Boundaries – How do we do this; - the mediator will first speak to the parties together and use this time to ensure that both parties have sign the agreement to mediate which is a document that binds the confidentiality aspect of the process, explaining the role of the mediator and the structure of the day before asking both parties to make a short opening statement which simply is an opportunity to explain what has been going on and how it makes you feel. You will then be put in separate rooms where the mediator will then explore with you what it is that you ideally want and need from the process. Normally throughout this process there becomes a point whereby one of the parties will decide to make an offer to settle and then a series of confidential negotiations begin until either an agreement between the parties has been made or it is decided that no agreement will be reached.
Voluntary – you are there by your own free will. It is important that you don’t feel forced to attend mediation; in order to have a chance of success mediation requires parties to arrive with the mindset that they have genuine desire to address the disagreement and an intention to try a find a means of agreeing a way forward. You are free at any stage of the mediation to leave should you so wish.
Creative thinking – anything is on the table for discussion with regards to potential means of resolving the conflict and moving on and therefore parties should not hold back from proposing possible means to addressing individual concerns. Mediation allows you to think “outside the box” and discuss what would work for you.
A no-obligation opportunity to work through options for resolution – as mentioned above you are in control and therefore if a resolution can't be agreed then it cannot be reached. You need to be satisfied with any proposals made and if you are not, then no agreement will be reached. Not all mediations are successful, although the majority are, and we will certainly give it our best shot on the day. Courts will actively encourage you parties to attempt mediation before hearing a case in court and it does not in any way effect your rights through the courts.
The intervention of an independent, impartial third party – The mediator will not allow for unconstructive, disruptive, derailing behaviour and therefore should they consider that it is not possible to make meaningful progress then they will terminate the mediation. Parties need to feel safe in the process and it is the mediator's role to ensure that safety is maintained.
Clarification of assumptions – The mediator's job is to help provide clarity in areas of disagreement which means that at times they may be a need to ask some challenge questions and do some reality checking with the parties. It is important to recognise that this is not the mediator “taking sides,” but is part of the mediator's toolkit which helps make the mediation as effective as possible and will only be used when considered helpful to the process.
Written Agreement – if any agreement is reached then the contents of the agreement will be recorded in a formal document that all parties will acknowledge and receive a copy of.
Do I need to prepare for Mediation?
Yes you do need to prepare for a mediation but your mediator will guide you through this process before the day and make sure that you are comfortable with what you are being asked to do and will ensure that they answer any questions that you may have. Preparation for a civil and commercial case will be different to that of a workplace case.
What happens next?
If both parties agree to mediation, a formal agreement to mediate document is issued for both parties to sign. Once the agreement is signed, the mediator will arrange a suitable date and time for the mediation to take place, send out the Zoom invites or advise on the location if face to face, and the necessary documentation to help with the preparation. In a civil, commercial or community case the mediator will ask in advance for a short summary of the case to be sent to them by each party.
What does it cost?
One of the major benefits of mediation is that compared to going to the costs of going court or the financial impact on a workplace in times of conflict, mediation is extremely cost effective. Our fees are determined on a case by case basis but we do participate in the Civil Mediation Council's Fixed Fee Scheme which means will will charge no more than this. However, our fees are flexible so if you are interested in getting a price for mediation please contact us and we will be happy to discuss your case on an individual basis. Fees are per party and therefore both parties attending mediation will be required to pay the fee.
In a workplace case, the fees are determined on a case by case basis and will be payable by the Company.
Do I need legal representation?
In most low level civil and commercial cases and all workplace mediations, legal representation is not required. Mediation is not about who is right or wrong in the eyes of the law but about looking to resolve the conflict in manner which satisfies both parties in an informal, non-judgmental, relaxed environment.