Mediation is an opportunity for people in conflict to take time out from legal or other formal processes and see if they can sort things out for themselves through dialogue.
The mediator is there to help the parties have as useful and productive a conversation with each other as possible. The mediator doesn’t take sides or give advice but believes that the parties are capable of knowing and acting in their own best interests.
What happens in mediation?
Step 1: Each party will meet with the mediator individually, to talk about the situation from their perspective, find out more about mediation and any alternatives that might be available, in order to make an informed decision about going ahead.
Step 2: All the parties meet together with the mediator to talk through the issues and make decisions about what they want to do. They may either be in the same room talking together with the mediator present or in different rooms with the mediator moving between them.
Step 3: The mediators will write up any agreements or decisions that are made on mediation or provide a statement of where things have ended.
The framework for mediation
Confidential: Everything that happens in the mediation meeting is confidential as far as the service is concerned. It is up to the parties mediating to decide what they want to share and with whom.
There are some exceptions to this, for example, if there is a child protection issue, or if someone is in immediate danger, or if someone has benefited financially from a crime. The service will also co-operate with any investigations from outside agencies and with court orders.
Voluntary: It is up to the parties whether or not they want to use mediation and they are free to stop their involvement at any time. Also, mediation is non-binding; the parties are responsible for keeping to any agreements they make. However, it is possible to turn some mediated agreements into court orders, which are legally binding.
Impartial: Mediators are there to help the parties make decisions about what they want to do. They do this by identifying the issues that are important to the parties; highlighting where there are similarities and differences; exploring the differences and any options available; identifying and supporting decision points. Mediators do not make judgments about the situation or tell the parties what to do but if they have information that the parties don’t know and could be helpful they will share it.