What is Mediation and Why is It Important?

Mediation is considered to be one of the most effective ways to solve disputes without the need for litigation.

Also known as Alternative Dispute Resolution, mediation aims to reach a common-sense settlement that can be agreed upon by both parties. This is facilitated by a mediator, a legal professional experienced in problem-solving and helping parties to communicate effectively as part of working towards a resolution.

While having such an intermediary may seem like an unnecessary step in some cases, the vast majority of scenarios benefit from an independent professional to help parties work through their differences.

When would you enter into mediation?

The mediation process is entirely flexible and can be used for a host of different cases and disputes. This includes; compensation claims, divorce proceedings, and consumer, contract, or family disputes.

The benefits of mediation

1) Cost effective and time efficient

Compared to litigation, mediation is a more economical form of negotiation as it is less costly and takes less time. The time and financial implications associated with court proceedings are hard to estimate, and there is always a danger that costs will spiral out of control. In contrast to this, mediation is often a relatively quick process and a simple dispute may be solved within a day. There is no guarantee that a satisfactory resolution will be found through mediation. However, it is typically a more cost-effective and less stressful process than a court claim.

2) Informal and amicable

Mediation is a process of communication and encourages positive action between parties. The third party involved is not there to impose restrictions but is simply there to help both parties communicate effectively. The process is entirely voluntary and therefore those involved are always in control.

One of the key differences between litigation and mediation is that negotiating out of court does not involve a third party – such as a judge – making a legally binding decision. It is down to the parties involved to reach a compromise that they agree to tie themselves into. A mediation may even end with a productive outcome leaving a positive channel of communication between those in dispute – such as in a work-related dispute.

3) Tailored to the individual

Mediation is a more informal process than court proceedings, which enables a settlement to be tailored to suit both parties and their circumstances. A mediator is there to make sure both parties are heard and their wishes understood. An experienced mediator can often offer more creative solutions that take into account the true interests of both parties and any common ground between them, rather than simply following the letter of the law.

4) Confidential

Although less formal, mediations remain completely confidential unlike the information shared in court hearings, which is made public. If the dispute can’t be solved, information brought to light during the mediation process cannot be used in further court proceedings.

What if mediation does not receive a resolution?

Unfortunately mediation, whilst favourable in many respects, does not always result in a settlement between parties. If you are unable to resolve a dispute through mediation, further legal action may be required and you may wish to instruct your legal service provider to begin court proceedings.

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