Mediation enables parties in dispute to resolve their disagreement quickly, cost effectively and sometimes even amicably. Mediation is a practical alternative to formal, adversarial, court-based legal proceedings but is also commonly undertaken once proceedings are on foot.

The process is confidential and parties must sign an agreement before the actual mediation can begin. To view the standard Agreement to Mediate which Carole uses, please click here.

It is important to understand that a mediator cannot make a decision for the parties. The parties are free to leave the mediation at any point. A mediator can also not provide legal advice.

In order for mediation to occur, all parties must agree to mediate. If Carole receives an enquiry where it is unclear whether all parties would be willing to mediate, she will take the necessary steps to establish whether or not that is the case.

At the same time she would also check whether the matter is urgent, and if so, her availability. The final preliminary matter to check is that Carole has no conflict of interest. This is because a mediator must be impartial. She cannot, for example, act as a mediator where she has been engaged by one of the parties as a barrister.

If the parties are happy for Carole to proceed, she will attend to the logistics and confirm the mediation in writing. Some information about the mediation process and what is expected from the parties will be provided at this point, together with the agreement to mediate.

Occasionally Carole may need to speak with the parties before the mediation begins.

Once the agreement to mediate has been signed, the parties have an opportunity to explain the matter from their perspective without interruption. An agenda will be created and there is usually then a joint session with Carole and the parties to thrash out the issues. There will be opportunities for the parties to each meet privately with the mediator. These private sessions are confidential between Carole and the party she is meeting with.

It is preferable for a settlement agreement to be drawn up in the mediation if the parties reach  agreement and are happy to do so. The intention would be for the agreement to be legally binding. Unrepresented parties may therefore wish to take legal advice before signing any agreement. If any party feels pressure to reach agreement at any point of the mediation, this needs to be raised with Carole.

Every mediator has their own personal style. Carole prefers to get everything out on the table for open discussion initially and is comfortable with expression of emotions. However, the parties’ wishes in this regard will always be taken into account. She also appreciates that there may be some information a party may only wish to discuss in a private meeting.