What is Mediation?
Mediation is a way of helping people who are in conflict to reach an agreement that suits all parties involved in the dispute. It is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR).
An independent third party, the mediator, assists the parties to negotiate their own solution to a problem. It has a structure and works to an agenda. Any agreement reached is not legally binding but, through agreement, a Court can be invited to translate that into a formal undertaking, in certain disputes.
Mediators use various techniques to open or improve dialogue between disputants. They aim to help the parties reach a written agreement regarding the issues raised. This can be quite simple in its wording and should be realistic and achievable.
How does it work?
- Initial contact is made with our office staff, via telephone, letter or email. They will listen to the problem and decide whether mediation may help.
- All relevant parties are contacted to confirm their commitment to the principal of trying mediation.
- Separate meetings are arranged with each party involved (last up to 1 hour).
- If parties agree, a joint mediation meeting is arranged. A neutral venue is hired and paid for by the Service and a time/date agreed.
- Mediators facilitate the joint meeting and assist parties in finding a resolution. (Sometimes more than one meeting may be necessary).
- Follow ups are made by the office to determine whether mediation has helped or more work is required by the mediators (usually 4-6 weeks after the joint meeting).
The mediators will not take sides, or give advice and do not judge individuals. They will ensure that past events and feelings are acknowledged but will try to focus parties on the future and how they would like to see things change. They are not there to make individuals ‘kiss and make up’ and will not insist on apologies being given.
Mediation can be applied across a whole variety of disputes, such as community, family matters, commercial and workplace.
Disputes can have a dramatic effect on people’s lives. This often leads to distress and anger, which in turn can make it difficult to resolve the issues. Health and wellbeing suffers as a result.
We would like to see our service being used as an early intervention tool in an effort to resolve conflict. We are just one of many ‘tools in the toolbox’.
Mediation can help avoid litigation (taking matters to Court). Court proceedings can be expensive and time consuming. Many Courts will now direct people towards mediation before allowing cases to progress through the legal system.
Enforcement does not always bring about a satisfactory resolution. In neighbour disputes, parties will often remain living next door to each other and will have to find a strategy of how they will interact with each other, in order that their lives are not adversely affected.
Mediation can help prevent things escalating and for misunderstandings and misconceptions to be dispelled. It empowers individuals to find their own resolution to issues. It gives everyone a voice that must be listened to by the other side, whether or not the opposing side agrees with what is being said.
Mediation does often require a leap of faith to help bring about a resolution.