Mediation involves mediator-facilitated reviews and discussions with and between parties in a confidential environment with a view to resolution of a dispute. It is a highly successful alternative to court or tribunal (Alternative Dispute Resolution, or ADR) – around 95% of cases referred for mediation settle successfully. Mediation is simple, flexible and voluntary. It usually takes one day and costs considerably less than going to court or to tribunal with the further advantage that the parties together arrive at their own solution through facilitated discussion and negotiation, rather than having a judgement imposed on them. The process is confidential and without prejudice, meaning that nothing said in mediation can be used in legal proceedings afterwards. However settlements reached through a mediation are legally binding. Mediation encourages openness and communication, and can build bridges and maintain commercial relationships.
More and more, judges are referring cases for mediation to encourage settlement before matters go to court, and to ease the pressure on the courts’ overstretched calendar, also avoiding for opposing parties the long delays before disputes arrive in court. It is a more personal process, and is especially suited to situations where relationships have broken down and feelings are running high.
The Ministry of Justice says about mediation:
“I strongly believe that for the vast majority of disputes in civil, family and administrative justice, it can be a better way of reaching a resolution for all concerned- quicker, less expensive, certainly less stressful, and a solution that the parties themselves will buy into because they have shaped the outcome”
Justice Minister, March 2012
The Judiciary says about mediation:
“Halsey has made plain not only the high rate of a successful outcome being achieved by mediation but also its established importance as a track to a just result… The court has given its stamp of approval to mediation”
Lord Justice Ward
Court of Appeal, 2012
Oliver v Symons
“In my judgment, the time has now come for this court firmly to endorse the advice given in chapter 11.56 of the ADR Handbook, that silence in the face of an invitation to participate in ADR is, as a general rule, of itself unreasonable”
Lord Justice Briggs
Court of Appeal, 2013
PGF II SA v OMFS Company