Mediation is a confidential process where an independent and neutral third party (mediator) facilitates negotiations between parties to a dispute in the hope of reaching an agreement about their dispute.
Mediation is a required step in most matters commenced in Court. It is also a recommended early step to consider before commencement of formal proceedings in Court. This is a very cost effective process if he parties can reach an agreement.
The mediator cannot impose a decision upon the parties. However, mediators (who are often experienced family lawyers) use their skills to facilitate negotiations between parties and thereby assist them to explore the issues in depth and reach the best possible joint decisions that the circumstances allow.
With the parties’ consent, some experienced mediators will use a blended process that combines mediation with providing the parties with their opinion and advice on the strength of each party’s case. This approach will be used where it is believed it will assist the parties to make decisions and thereby come to an agreement. Such a process is known as evaluative mediation and is commonly used in family law disputes.
Mediation frequently involves the parties’ legal advisors but in suitable matters parties can engage in the process without their legal advisors being present.
The mediation process is adversarial.
The benefits of Mediation
- Efficient – Mediation is likely to produce a quicker outcome than the more formal processes of arbitration or litigation. It should therefore be considered as early as possible after a dispute has arisen.
- Affordable – mediation is often more cost effective than litigation as it requires less preparation.
- Mediation is particularly appropriate where a dispute involves complex issues and/or multiple parties.
- Empowering – Mediation enables parties to have an input into and to control the process, allowing for a more tailored outcome.
- Confidential – Information disclosed during the mediation cannot be used later in any court proceedings. Mediation is also useful where privacy and confidentiality are important. Parties are able to preserve these rights without public disclosure. This often leads to more satisfactory outcomes for both parties.
The mediation process will not suit those people who:
- Are angry and want to seek revenge against their former partner/spouse;
- Believe this process will enable them to pressure their former spouse/partner to agree to what they want;
- Wish to avoid giving certain financial information to their former spouse/partner;
- Are looking for a `soft’ option; or
- Do not have equal bargaining power to that of their former partner/spouse.
Damien Greer has many years of experience as a mediator and participating on behalf of clients in complex financial and children’s matters. He can provide further information to those people interested in this process.