What is Mediation?
Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR). It is a voluntary and structured process whereby a neutral third party (the mediator) assists two or more parties, with their consent, to manage or resolve a dispute or conflict, by helping them develop mutually acceptable agreements.
Mediation is essentially a more practical, flexible, cost effective and non-stressful alternative to litigation and other formal processes for resolving disputes or conflicts, such as disciplinary or grievance procedures at work.
The primary aim is to help the parties work together in a non-adversarial way, to find creative and durable solutions to their differences, through a collaborative problem solving process, managed by a qualified and competent mediator. The mediator manages the process and facilitates an environment where the parties can talk, reflect and reconsider their positions in order to reach a settlement and where relevant, improve the relationship.
Mediation is increasingly becoming popular in the UK and around the world as a viable alternative compared to court processes, not least because it empowers the parties by putting them in control of the entire process. It takes into account their interests and needs and saves time and costs in lawyers’ and court fees. The parties decide their own solutions, not the mediator and there is always a high chance that where people voluntarily agree to do/not to do something, they will keep that agreement.
Mediation also helps to preserve or rebuild personal relationships with friends, spouses or children; business relationships with business partners, customers or clients; and workplace relationships with colleagues, managers and other co-workers.
The time and cost factors of mediation are a huge advantage over litigation. In some cases, several years go by before a date is finally set for trial and the trial itself may go on for several more days, months or years, during which time the parties would have spent excessive amounts of money. In contrast the mediation process is usually conducted in one day or less and the difference in costs compared to litigation is significantly reduced.