What is mediation?
Mediation is an informal and flexible process in which an independent, impartial mediator assists opposing parties to reach a mutually satisfactory settlement to their dispute. The main advantage of attempting to reach agreement through mediation is that you are directly involved in negotiating your own settlement, whereas in litigation or arbitration a settlement will be imposed on you by a court or tribunal.
What is the cost of mediation?
Venue fees, the mediator’s fee and the mediator’s travel expenses – that’s it. Fees will vary between different mediators and agencies, but in all cases they will be a fraction of the cost of going to court or to tribunal. The costs are split equally between the parties, unless the parties agree otherwise among themselves.
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Can mediation be done online or by phone?
Yes. Provided certain conditions are met, Collaborative Solutions can arrange mediation when one or both parties are only available by video conference or by phone.
Do you have to go to mediation?
No – mediation is voluntary, and if you attend mediation you are still free to leave at any time. Judges very often ask parties to mediate as a last resort before going to court, and most people do try mediation with positive outcomes. If you refuse to go to mediation, however, you may find that a Judge could order you to pay higher costs at the end of a court case, even if you win.
What is the mediator’s role?
The mediator will guide the parties towards their own resolution. Through joint sessions and separate caucuses with the parties, the mediator helps both sides define the issues clearly, understand each other’s position and move closer to resolution.
Can I bring someone with me?
Yes – you can. Some people bring a legal or other advisor, or a friend or family member for support. Legal advisors will sign the Agreement to Mediate alongside their client, and this contains a confidentiality clause. Non-lawyers attending a mediation must sign a short confidentiality agreement before the mediation begins. This may be done at the outset of mediation.
Will I have to be in the same room as the person I am in dispute with?
Not if you don’t want to. Some mediations take place without the parties meeting. The venue chosen for the mediation will have separate spaces for each party and if you don’t want to talk directly with the other party the mediator will move between the spaces.
Is it legally binding?
The mediation process itself is non-binding. If at the end of the mediation the parties reach a settlement they will between them draw up a mediation agreement settlement document and sign it there and then. This document is a contract and is legally binding. If either side does not honour the contract, the other party can sue for the original disagreement and also for breach of contract. If the mediation was court ordered, then the settlement document is filed with the court as the court’s judgement and case is dismissed. If a party breaks that agreement they can be held in contempt of court and fined.