For all types of mediation it is important that the parties are prepared.
Following initial contact from one or both of the parties the mediator will contact the parties by telephone to introduce him / herself, to ascertain a brief outline of the dispute(s), to set a date for the meditation day and deal with any preliminary queries. A proposed form of Mediation Agreement will be prepared and circulated to the parties for approval. Each party will be invited to provide the mediator with a summary of the issues in dispute along with any other relevant documents to so that they can have some background information prior to the Mediation Day itself.
On the Day
The mediation day usually starts between 09.00 and 10.00. There is no formal structure to the mediation day, unlike that of a tribunal or court hearing. The lack of formal structure means the mediator can take into account the wishes of the parties and nature of each dispute.
The day will normally begin with an individual meeting between the mediator and each party when the mediation agreement is signed and the format of the day is discussed. Normally this is followed by a joint meeting at which time each party sets out their views on the dispute and the mediator can confirm the ground rules and establish an agreed way of working forward. However there is no requirement for this if one party does not want to or feel able to face the other person at the beginning of the mediation day.
There will potentially be joint and individual sessions at any time during the mediation day. During joint sessions all parties will be present in the same room. Following any individual sessions it is important to note that only information that has been specifically agreed with the mediator can be disclosed to the other party.
Throughout the course of the day, the amount and type of meetings will vary according to the needs of the parties and the organisation which the mediator believes will be most effective. The mediation will continue until either resolution has been reached, or the parties agree to take a break and resume on another occasion, or one party chooses to abandon the mediation process.
Assuming that an agreement is reached between the parties, the mediator will assist in recording that agreement in a suitable form. This may be a document which simply records the agreement reached in plain language or may be a more complex document which includes a commitment to enter into a legally binding agreement or obtain an agreed court order.
If unfortunately an agreement is not reached participants will have gained a greater understanding of the other party’s position. It is also not uncommon if during the Mediation Day a dispute has failed to settle, for parties to go away and reflect on their positions and consequently an agreement is reached.