What is Mediation?
Mediation is an informal, private process in which the participants are assisted by an impartial person, the Mediator, to discuss their differences, to systematically isolate disputed issues, develop options, consider alternatives, and try to reach a consensual outcome which will accommodate the parties’ needs.
A majority of mediations reach a settlement. Even when parties are unable to reach a resolution which suits them, the mediation may have clarified and narrowed the issues in dispute. Outcomes are more likely to endure because the parties have decided them.
Parties in mediation often find the mediation an empowering and healing process. Successful mediations offer businesses the opportunity to concentrate on being successful, and individuals are often able to retain valuable relationships. The real costs of conflict can be minimized.
The confidentiality of the mediation process encourages people to be open and frank about the issues between them.
Mediators practise differently, but there are some fundamental characteristics of mediation which are:
- The Mediator is impartial, i.e. s/he cannot give advice or make a decision
- The parties control the outcome
- Confidentiality and privacy
- Without prejudice: nothing said by either party can be used or referred to in any later proceedings e.g a court case
- Parties are free to terminate the mediation at any time, as is the Mediator
- Very flexible process
- Parties can attend alone or with support. Apart from in commercial matters, parties do not need to involve lawyers, although some choose to do so
Chris Rowe conducts mediations in the following general categories:
- General interpersonal, but not family, children or matrimonial property
- Partnership disputes
- Family inheritance issues
- Elder issues including retirement villages
There are some situations where mediations may not be an appropriate dispute resolution process. These include cases where the disputes involve purely legal issues; and where one or more party may be at risk of physical harm. Mediators are accustomed to discussing whether mediation is a suitable process before agreeing to proceed as Mediator.