Mediation, distinct from Arbitration, is a term which denotes a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) – a way of resolving disputes between two or more parties. The mediator assists the parties to negotiate an agreement to their differences. Disputants may mediate disputes in a variety of domains, such as commercial, legal, diplomatic, workplace, community and family matters.
The process is private and confidential, possibly enforced by law. Participation is voluntary at this stage, but is to become prescribed by legislation. The mediator acts as a neutral third party and facilitates rather than directs the process.
The benefit(s) of mediation include:
Cost — a mediator may charge a fee comparable to that of a senior legal practitioner and one may be legally represented. The mediation process generally takes much less time than litigating a case through standard legal procedures. A court case may take months or years to resolve, while mediation may achieve a resolution in a matter of hours or days. The effect of less time means expending less money on hourly fees and costs.
Confidentiality — court hearings are accessible by the public, mediation remains strictly confidential. No one but the parties to the dispute, their representatives and the mediator(s) are privy to the dispute.
Control—Mediation increases the control the parties have over the resolution. In a court case, the parties obtain a resolution, but control resides with the presiding judge. Mediation is more likely to produce a result that is mutually acceptable for the parties.
Compliance— The result is attained by the parties working together and is mutually acceptable – adherence to the mediated agreement is very likely. A further cost reduction is possible, because the parties are unlikely to have to employ lawyers to enforce compliance. A mediated agreement is enforceable in a court of law.
Mutuality—Parties to mediation are typically ready to work mutually toward a resolution. In most circumstances the mere fact that parties are willing to mediate means that they are ready to compromise their position. This reduces acrimony, stress and has the added benefit of often preserving the relationship the parties had before the dispute.
Support—Mediators are skilled to address difficult situations. The mediator acts as a neutral facilitator and guides the parties through the process. The mediator helps the parties think laterally for possible solutions to the dispute, broadening the range of possible solutions.