There are many advantages to mediation, and why it should be your next step in conflict resolution. Some however can be more subtle than you first imagine!
Contrary to the opinions of many, mediation is not simply a route to compromise, nor is it a process where parties air their opinions and a 3rd party (the mediator) comes up with a solution to the issue from a fresh perspective. Instead, mediation is a methodology that results in all parties collectively coming up with their own solution, and one where said outcome is more advantageous than either remaining in dispute, or going to court.
Mediation is voluntary
Being a voluntary process, parties come to the table in mediation with a view towards resolution. That is not to say that they don’t have their own agendas, nor that they don’t have their own justifications for the dispute, but rather all concerned are working towards finding some common ground whereby they can all leave satisfied with the result.
Mediation is confidential
Mediation is 100% confidential.
What is discussed during the process itself must remain private and is not to be discussed outside of the mediation. This is particularly true now in the age of social media where it is all to easy to disclose information to others that is better left unsaid!
What is discussed during the private caucus sessions is confidential between the mediator and the party concerned and will not be disclosed to any other party without “express consent”. This means that you can be completely open and honest with your mediator about the issues and your interests. I did however put express consent in inverted commas as depending on what is said could be the reason that the parties have come to this impasse in the first place, i.e. a miscommunication, or indeed that you may have come up with a point whereby there we could see movement from the other party towards a resolution should that be able to be disclosed.
Mediation is entered into “without prejudice”
Without prejudice means that any offers that are tabled during mediation, any views that are shared amongst the parties, or suggestions debated upon, are not admissible in court should a resolution not be met through the mediation process. This again, as with the confidentiality elements, means that you can be open and honest and free to discuss options that one would hope might lead towards a resolution.
Mediation is impartial
The role of the mediator is to remain completely neutral and impartial to the proceedings. The mediator is not present to serve as judge and jury, but to facilitate you coming to your own conclusions and solutions to the issues concerned. We may from time to time play “devils advocate” in the private caucuses to help parties see issues from the perspective of others, but we allow you to decide the outcome. This results in all parties leaving mediation to be happy in the outcome as they came to it themselves!
Mediation costs a lot less than going to court
The legal costs associated with taking a case to court can quickly escalate once you take into account the court fees, solicitors fees, barristers charges. The likelihood that one party will “lose” (for want of a better word) could result in you being liable for their legal costs too.
Mediation is faster than going to court
Most mediations reach an amicable conclusion in about a day. Combine that statement with the fact that 84% of mediations result in an agreement, means that it is highly likely, as long as you come to mediation with an open mind, that you will settle your dispute far more quickly and efficiently than going down the court route.
Forget the issue, focus on the future!
The saving of time also transcends itself into saving relationships between the parties. Mediation does not just save time and money but, an often as equally importantly, allows all parties to come to a quick and positive resolution. Mediation begins by looking at the issues at hand, and their background, but moves on to focus on the underlying issues, what we want to get from a resolution and how we might be able to work collectively to ensure a future working relationship. Negotiating with a focus on the future is really what sets mediation apart from the alternative, and should leave all parties satisfied rather than being a win/lose scenario which will undoubtedly spoil any chance at working harmoniously going forwards.