If you’ve been reading our blog or researching mediation, it is likely you know will know why it is an effective method of alternative dispute resolution. You may even know about the different styles of mediation. But what can you expect during mediation and what type of mediation is right for your dispute?
It is highly likely that mediation in any format will follow a fairly straightforward structure:
Prior to the mediation meeting
Once a mediator has been instructed, they are likely follow these steps prior to the first meeting:
- The chosen mediator will contact all parties to introduce themselves, to ascertain a brief outline of the dispute(s), to set a date and location for the meditation meeting and deal with any preliminary queries.
- Each party will be invited to provide the mediator with a summary of the dispute, along with any other relevant documents.
- It is possible that a proposed Mediation Agreement will be prepared and circulated to the parties for approval. This details the parties involved, the nature of the dispute and the mediation rules. All parties will be asked to sign and agree to adhere to them.
On mediation day
The mediator will open the session with a statement. This is another opportunity to educate the disputants about the process, how the mediation will be conducted and express how important it is for all parties to be active participants in the proceedings, in order to reach a settlement.
The mediator will then invite each party to give an opening or position statement. This is an incredibly important part of the process. It is an opportunity for each party to adequately explain their position and grievance. A chance to get their message across in a neutral environment. A message they may have not have been able to communicate or discuss for months, or even years.
Discussion + resolution
Depending on the style of mediation, the mediator will then drive discussion to try and reach a mutually agreeable outcome for all parties. How this is achieved will depend greatly on the type of mediation (see below).
Bear in mind that mediation may extend across a number of meetings. When the mediation finally closes, the mediator will often offer a closing statement. At this time, the mediator will generally thank the parties for their time and effort in making the mediation successful. They may also reiterate any final steps required to bring the agreement to fruition.
Type of mediation
Round table or independent mediation
Likely the most common type of mediation, an independent, impartial mediator bring together all disputants in one room, with the aim of reaching a solution that’s acceptable to all.
The mediator will use a wide variety of techniques to guide the process in a constructive direction, to find a settlement. It is important to remember that the Mediator is not a judge or an arbitrator. He or she will not weigh the arguments of each side and then declare a winner. Nor will they dictate the terms of the settlement.
Shuttle mediation sees the mediator divide the parties into different rooms and shuttle from one party to the other. The mediator keeps each party informed of changes and considerations, as a resolution is discussed. If there is a lot of tension or bitterness between the parties, shuttle mediation can be a very useful method of keeping mediation constructive and focussed on reparation.
While mediation is generally less stressful and more cost effective than court, it is important to remember that shuttle mediation can cost more than the round table mediation. This is because the process will likely take longer because of the time spent going back and forth between the parties. Despite the added time, it’s often quite an effective way to find resolution, particularly in embittered disputes.
Co-mediation involves multiple mediators. It is a highly effective way to approach the mediation process, although it can be more costly as more than one mediator is used. Co-mediation allows mediators with different backgrounds, varied skills and different genders to work together in a complementary way. The division of labour in this style of mediation, is determined by factors such as experience and function. For example, where one mediator is more experienced in the subject matter than the other, they may lead the questioning. The main drawbacks in co-mediation are considered to be incompatibility of the mediators and increased costs for disputants.
What type of mediation is right for your case
Mediation could – and should – be used to resolve many more disputes than it does. But choosing the right style and type of mediation is critical in making sure that it is a viable form of ADR. If you need more advice or guidance about using mediation for a property related dispute, get in touch.