We previously discussed what mediation services are, so now let’s turn to “How does this service really work?”
The Number of Parties
In every mediation there are parties (people involved in the dispute). These are either individuals or individuals representing a company. In most mediations there are 2-4 parties, excepting workplace and employment disputes where the number may be higher, if employees, managers or directors are involved.
The Initial Contact with the Mediator
One party from the dispute, or their legal representative if they have one, contacts, via email or telephone, a mediator to discuss mediation of their dispute. The mediator would ask about the dispute to establish the type of mediation services required, Civil, Commercial, Workplace, Employment, Family, Community, Peer, Consumer or Restorative Justice.
The mediator will then explain their role and the benefits of using mediation. Once the party is satisfied with the information provided, a ‘Mediation Referral Form’ needs to be filled out and an initial meeting known as the ‘Mediation Information Assessment Meeting‘ is set up.
The other party is contacted to explain the same information and a separate initial mediation meeting is arranged with them. Sometimes there is a joint meeting if the parties involved are happy to comply.
The Initial Mediation Meeting
This is generally up to 1 hour either at the mediator’s office or a neutral venue. The dispute issues are discussed. Documentation e.g. proof of Identification and address may be provided and maybe some documentation regarding the dispute. At the end of the meeting it is agreed whether mediation is suitable for the dispute and whether each party wishes to proceed with the mediation services process.
Before the Mediation
The mediator will then agree date, time and venue to carry out the mediation with all parties. The mediation may take a few hours or up to 2 days. The selected venue will usually have either 3 rooms (1 for each party and 1 for the mediator) or 2 (1 for each party). The mediator will request each party to prepare documentation to support their dispute and sometimes a joint bundle to be used at the mediation.
The Mediator provides details of their fees and terms (Mediation Costs) and the Mediation Agreement for all parties to sign, including any legal representatives to be present at the mediation.
The Mediation Day
The parties arrive at the venue at separate times for the mediator to have an introduction prior to the mediation and are allocated their separate rooms.
Stage one- Opening Joint session
The mediator has an initial joint session with all the parties to explain the process of the day and ask how the parties wish to be addressed. The mediator would then ask the party who initiated the mediation services process to give their position statement or if the dispute was in ‘the process of proceedings’ the claimant would start.
Stage two- Private session (Caucuses)
Each party will have a single session with the mediator to explore the issues and make concessions to the other party to try to reach a settlement. Each party is reminded that the information shared in these sessions are confidential and will only be shared to the opposite party with their verbal consent. The number of single sessions are dependant on the nature of the dispute and the parties involved. After each session the party is given an issue to consider to help them make a better concession for the opposite party.
Stage three- Closing Joint session
Once all concessions have been made and the parties have come to an agreement, the mediation is generally closed with a joint session and a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ will be drawn up by the mediator or legal representatives and signed by all the parties.
After the Mediation
The mediator may contact the parties afterwards to check if each party is carrying out the agreement and may request that a feedback form is completed.