What is Mediation?

Mediation is a voluntary, confidential process in which a neutral third party helps those involved in a conflict to communicate, negotiate and reach their own resolution to their disagreement.
How does mediation work?

A mediator helps parties by facilitating discussion and negotiation so the parties can agree solutions to the issues in dispute. The timings and structure of a mediation day are flexible to suit the circumstances of the parties and the case. A typical mediation will involve:

Private and confidential rooms

Each party has their own private room where they can discuss the dispute confidentially, with and without the mediator present.

A joint opening meeting

There is also a room where both parties can meet together. It is usually helpful for a joint meeting to be held towards the start of the day to give each party the opportunity to have its say and explain their view of the case.

Further private and confidential meetings

The mediator will move back and forth between the parties’ private rooms. Everything that is discussed in your room is confidential and the mediator will not disclose anything that is said in your private room to the other side unless you ask him to. The mediator will meet with each side a number of times, working with them to find a solution that is acceptable to each side.

Further meetings

If it might help the process, there may sometimes be further joint meetings, or meetings with only the parties present or only the advisers present.

Settlement agreement

If an agreement is reached, it is written up, usually by the lawyers. Only when the agreement is put in writing and signed by all the parties does it become legally binding. Sometimes the parties may agree a Heads of Terms to their agreement which they sign at the end of the Mediation. The formal agreement is then drafted by the legal advisers after the Mediation and signed by the parties.

What is the role of the mediator?

The mediator will facilitate discussion and negotiation to help the parties move towards reaching a settlement. The mediator is not there to give you legal advice or to judge the rights and wrongs of the dispute. The mediator will explore your needs with you and help you to assess the strengths and weaknesses of your argument. A mediator will help you consider creative solutions to your disagreement so that you are in the best position to agree a settlement.

Are all disputes suitable for mediation?

Mediation is appropriate for nearly all types of disputes, irrespective of the number of parties involved, and is especially suited to commercial disputes.

It can be used at any stage of the dispute process but is most beneficial when explored at any early stage, once the parties know the nature and extent of the dispute but before the costs start to build up.

What about confidentiality?

Everyone present at the mediation will sign a confidentiality agreement. This includes both parties, the mediator and anyone who attends with you to give you support. The confidentiality agreement ensures the process is treated as a without-prejudice negotiation which cannot be referred to in subsequent legal proceedings. The mediator cannot be called afterwards to give evidence about what took place.

How long does a mediation take?

Most mediations are completed within one day. In a multi-party dispute, the mediation may take two or more days. In certain cases, Oliver may meet with each of the parties in advance of the mediation. Where he is helping a family through a period of change, Oliver may help them them over a number of months.

A typical mediation can be a long day. It is important that you are comfortable. There is no need to dress formally. Do bring important items such as your phone and any chargers with you. The mediator will ask you to turn off your phone when meeting with you but you are otherwise free to make calls.

Food and refreshments are usually provided and if you have any special dietary requirements, you should tell your advisers or the mediator in advance.

What if the parties fail to reach an agreement?

About 80% of mediations reach agreement but sometimes it is not possible. Where the parties are unable to settle the dispute, the mediator will summarise where the parties have reached consensus and where there are still areas of disagreement. Further telephone or face to face meetings may be suggested. Many disputes settle shortly after mediation because of the progress that has been made during the mediation process.

Where does the mediation take place?

The parties can decide where the mediation is to take place. If you need help arranging a venue, do let me know.

How do I appoint Oliver as our mediator?

Please call Oliver on his mobile 07779 727903, send him an email to contact@oliverhallam.com or use the contact form by clicking here. He will need the names of the parties, their addresses, the details of their solicitors if they are represented, and the venue. You can give him your preferred dates or he can confirm his availability to allow you to choose a date. He will provide a draft mediation agreement and further guidance about the day.