Guide to Commercial Mediation
Why use Mediation?
Mediation is an increasingly popular way of sorting out disagreements. As an efficient alternative to what can be lengthy, stressful and confrontational legal and tribunal procedures, it is now widely used to settle disputes in the commercial sector and the workplace (both in commercial and public sector organisations). Mediation is also used to resolve disagreements in many other areas, such as Families, the Community, Children’s Special Educational Needs provision, alleged Discrimination etc. The rate of full agreements reached varies depending on the area of mediation, but is around 90% for commercial cases.
Mediation is quick, informal and very successful, and there is little paperwork involved. At the start of the process, each party needs to send the mediator an overview of the disagreement and at the end of the mediation meeting, there is the written agreement to be signed by all parties. Mediation focuses on improving communication and understanding between people while working towards realistic and practical agreements. The benefits can be far-reaching: people who have experienced mediation say that it has shown them how to analyse and resolve disagreements better, has enabled them to continue a business relationship and has been much less stressful and costly than going to court.
What is Mediation?
Mediation brings together all the parties in a disagreement and helps them, through discussions and negotiation, to come to an agreement, which is practical and acceptable to all parties. We aim to resolve disagreements as quickly as possible.
An independent and impartial third party (the mediator) facilitates the process and the joint meeting. Mediators are specially trained not to take sides or give advice, and they do not make judgements or take decisions. Their role is to manage the process fairly, and to help people to communicate and explore options. Mediation is informal and usually takes place at a neutral venue.
Mediation is voluntary: all parties involved in the disagreement need to agree to take part.
Mediation is confidential: nothing said during the mediation process can be used elsewhere without the other parties’ permission. It will be agreed in advance how the outcome of the meeting will be shared with people that need to know about it.
How does Mediation work?
Once a referral has been made, we will contact you to explain the process in more detail and answer any questions you may have. (Please remember that all parties need to be willing to consider mediation before we can proceed to the next stage.)
When we have established that all parties are willing to go to mediation, the case will be allocated to one of our mediators, who will contact you to introduce themselves, answer any questions that you may have about the process and discuss the disagreement. The mediator will also ask you to send him / her an overview of the disagreement. This needs to reach the mediator no later than 5 working days before the joint meeting. It is likely that the mediator will call again after receipt of your overview to discuss the disagreement in more detail and ask you to clarify some issues.
The mediator will discuss with you who should attend the meeting. It is important that there are not too many people, and that the lead person of each party has full decision making power.
Once the mediator has collected everyone’s views he / she will invite everybody to a joint meeting. The meeting will usually take place at a neutral venue, at a time and place to suit everyone. The venue will be chosen to suit any specific requirements that we have been told about. In many cases, one of the parties can make meeting facilities available. Provided that the mediator thinks the arrangements are suitable and the other party agrees with the venue, this helps to save costs. For most mediations 2 or more rooms are needed as some of the meeting time will be spent by the mediator with individual parties, and some of the time will be spent with everybody in the same room.
At the start of the joint meeting the agenda will be agreed and each party will be asked to present their view of the disagreement. Each party can do so without interruption from the other party. It is important that this initial “presentation” is kept short and that it is given by the lead member of each party and not their legal representative.
As the mediation progresses, the mediator will ensure that everyone is given every opportunity to say the things that are important. At the same time each person will be required to listen carefully to the others. In order to ensure that everyone understands the situation as fully as possible we encourage people to ask as many questions as they need.
From there the mediator will lead parties to think about the future and into discussions of possible solutions to the disagreement. We encourage everyone at the meeting to contribute possible solutions, before deciding a way forward that everybody can agree with. Mediation has a strong focus on improving communication and understanding between parties before working towards practicable and realistic solutions that meet the parties’ needs.
Once an agreement has been reached, it will be recorded and everyone present will be asked to sign the agreement and will receive a copy. Where both parties have lawyers attending, it is usual for the lawyers to draw up the mediation agreement with the parties’ and mediator’s help.
Where only a partial agreement has been reached, the parties can agree to inform the court or tribunal about the outcome. The mediator will record this agreement and ask the parties to sign it. The mediator cannot be required to attend any further proceedings and cannot be called as a witness or asked to express an opinion about the case.
Who are the Mediators?
We employ a team of carefully selected mediators. All our mediators are professionally trained and accredited by recognised national bodies. Whichever mediator is assigned to your case, you will benefit from the combined experience of the team as we work closely together through regular team supervision and training.
Our mediators come from a variety of backgrounds (commerce, industry, local government, education and social work) and have experience of working in a wide range of settings. Mediators must also have at least two years’ mediation practice before they can work for Mediation Works.
How do I contact the service?
Please ring 01952-520091, e-mail email@example.com or write to us at:
Mediation Works, 16 Queen Street, Wellington, Telford, Shropshire TF1 1EH.