Mediation is a process in which a neutral third party, called a mediator, helps disputing parties come to an agreement, by facilitating discussion and encouraging compromise. It is an alternative to court proceedings and has many benefits over taking a matter to Court, including cost and time savings, and the ability to maintain relationships.
One of the biggest advantages of mediation is that it is usually cheaper than going to court. Court cases can be lengthy and complex, and parties are required to follow the stringent procedures set out in the Civil Procedure Rules before a Judge will consider the claim. This inevitably attracts significant legal fees and other costs, such as court fees and expert witness fees. In contrast, mediation usually involves just the mediator and the disputing parties, which can greatly reduce the cost of resolving the dispute.
Mediation is usually quicker than going to court. Court cases can take months, if not years to resolve, depending on the complexity of the matter, the procedural steps which need to be followed, and the available capacity within the Court system. By contrast, a mediation appointment can often be arranged within a few weeks, allowing the parties to quickly resolve the dispute and move on with their lives. This can be especially important in cases involving urgent issues, such as the need to quickly sell a piece of property.
Mediation also offers allows the parties to maintain control over the outcome of their dispute. In civil court proceedings, the judge makes the final decision, which invariably leaves one party unhappy with the outcome. In mediation, however, the parties are in control and can come to an agreement that works for everyone. This can be especially helpful in cases where the parties want to continue their relationship.
Mediation tends to be a more informal and flexible process than court proceedings. In court, the parties are bound by strict Civil Procedure Rules. In mediation, the parties have greater control over the process and can tailor it to their specific needs and to fit their budgets. This makes it easier to address underlying issues in dispute and come to a resolution which suits everyone.
While proceeding to court and going to a trial is often necessary in some cases, mediation can be a valuable alternative in many disputes due to the costs and time savings and flexibility of the process.
What happens at mediation
The mediator does not have the authority to make a decision or impose a solution in the same way that a judge would, but instead facilitates communication, negotiation and compromise between the parties to help them reach a resolution.
Darwin Gray Solicitors have many year of experience with mediation and can advise further on individual cases.
The first step in the process is usually for the mediator to meet or have a call with each party separately to understand their respective positions on the dispute. This usually takes place shortly before the mediation itself is held, during which they will go back and forth between the parties try to facilitate communication and negotiation between the parties. Usually the parties will be in the same location but in separate rooms, although it can be useful for parties to meet in the same room, and modern technology also enables remote mediations to be very effective.
During the mediation, the mediator will try to help the parties understand each other’s perspectives and see whether they can find any common ground. They will also help the parties come up with solutions and explore potential options for resolving the dispute.
The aim of mediation is for the parties to come to an agreement that satisfies their needs and interests. Often, this will involve some element of compromise from all parties. If the parties are able to reach an agreement, the mediator will help them document it in a formal agreement, which typically will be enforceable just like any other contract.
If the parties cannot reach an agreement, the mediation process will end without a resolution. It will then be up to the parties to decide whether to pursue other options, such as issuing or continuing with court proceedings, or to explore other methods of dispute resolution.
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