Ian Walker - How does Civil Mediation work?People can get stuck in problems. They often get stuck on questions of who is to blame and who is right and who is wrong.

Hiring an independent Mediator can make a big difference, because they are focused on assisting their clients to find a solution. The Mediation process is forward looking

The Fundamental Principles of Mediation

The fundamental principles of all mediation are;

• It is a voluntary process.
Both participants are free to end the process at any time. The mediator will also end the process if it is not getting anywhere.

The Mediator is independent
It is the role of the mediator to help both of the participants equally. The Mediator helps the participants to negotiate their own solution together.

• The mediator does not give legal advice
The mediator can share helpful information in a neural way. The participants will have their own Solicitors who will be able to advise them, Sometimes the mediator will identify a legal issue about which advise is needed and will prepare questions for each to ask their Solicitor, This can help move the mediation forward and make the legal advice more relevant avoid unnecessary costs.

• It is a confidential process.
The substance of the negotiations remains confidential. This is to allow the participants to freely consider a range of options together until they find an option which is acceptable to both. Both sign a contract called the “Agreement to Mediate” to make this confidentiality legally binding.

How Civil Mediation works (More complex cases)

Normally the parties will already have decided to attempt to resolve their dispute through mediation.

If the parties have Solicitors, they should have identified the issues to be resolved. They will gather together  the documentation necessary to resolve these issues.

Once appointed we agree a timetable with the Solicitors. We will agree a date for the full mediation meeting. The length of the meeting will depend on the issues involved.

Ideally we will then meet with the both parties, without their Solicitors, to discuss the process of mediation, and what will happen at the full meeting. We will talk about negotiation and gain a better sense of what the dispute is about. Often this step is skipped in order to keep costs down.

The mediation itself will then take place. We can arrange a venue if requested. Both parties will attend together with their legal teams and anyone else it has been agreed will participate. There will then be a combination of joint meetings and separate meetings with each party and their team. It is fundamental that those attending have authority to settle, or access to someone with that authority

The Mediator manages the process.

The mediator will only disclose to the other side, what he is authorized to.

The Mediator will use their skills to assist the parties to narrow and resolve issues and to find an acceptable agreement.

Once the process is successful and the deal has been done, the Solicitors will draw up the formal agreement.

How Civil Mediation works (less complex cases)

There are many disputes where the parties don’t have Solicitors. If they do, it is one thing getting necessary advice in order to make informed decisions as needed, but it may not be cost effective to bring them to meetings.

In those cases, use the style of meetings used in family mediation. These involve meetings with the parties without Solicitors. There may be more meetings and the meetings may be shorter. In between meetings, the parties may gather relevant information, take advice and reflect. This is less all or nothing than the traditional Civil Mediation Model.

There might only need to be one meeting.

We have introduced Civil Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings in order to allow clients an opportunity to find out more and to “test the water”.

These meetings allow us to find out about the dispute and the people involved. They assist us to set up a mediation which is proportionate and hopefully most likely to succeed.

When Mediation starts, the usual principles of Mediation apply.