What is Mediation?
As consumers demand an even greater say in shaping their own future by becoming more involved in the day-to-day decisions affecting them, our current adversarial legal system is being questioned and challenged. Even arbitration is perceived by some as being long-winded and costly. Moreover, many argue that it is simply replacing one binding decision-making process with another. In short, people feel the need to regain control over the decision in disputes.
The reality is often that no party in a dispute really wants to go to court, except in certain circumstances e.g. where precedent or case law may be involved. Alternate dispute resolution (ADR) is simply to involve the disputing parties in a process, facilitated by a neutral third party, which enables them to reach their own settlement. That process is called Mediation.
Thus, Mediation resolves disputes without resorting to litigation. Mediators assist in identifying issues and information needs, reducing obstacles to communication, exploring alternatives and focusing on the needs and interests of those most affected by the dispute. Unlike court proceedings, mediation involves the direct participation of the parties, who often work alongside instructed legal representatives.
Mediation is a voluntary, non-binding, and “without prejudice” process in which a specially trained third party intervenes in a dispute and attempts to bring the parties together in a settlement agreement. If the mediation succeeds, and over 80% of them do, then it ends with a binding agreement.
If anyone is dissatisfied with the process, either party or the mediator may terminate the mediation at any time. The claimant may then proceed to assert their legal rights through arbitration or the courts.