What is mediation?
Mediation is an effective way to resolve disputes without the need for a lengthy court battle. It is a flexible and cost-effective process involving an independent person – the mediator – who is appointed by agreement between the disputing parties to help them reach a settlement that they both agree on.
The role of the mediator is to generate effective communication between the parties and to help them identify common interests, thereby enabling a consensus agreement to be reached. Mediation is a confidential process and the mediator remains impartial at all times, focusing on helping the parties find the best settlement possible for them and often even succeeding in rebuilding trust sufficiently to enable the parties to resume and continue their commercial relationship in the future.
The mediation process is always without prejudice, which means that whatever is said or offered by one party during the mediation may not be used by the other against it in other contexts, including in any future litigation. The mediation process may be as formal as the parties involved wish it to be; some prefer a more formal and structured mediation process, others prefer the less formal approach of a facilitated negotiation.
If, despite best intentions and efforts, the parties fail to reach an agreement, then moving to adjudication (where a mediator or another independent person gives a binding decision) or to a court process are obviously still available. If this does happen, everything discussed during the preceding mediation process remains confidential to the parties involved; it is not disclosed to the court nor can it be otherwise used by one party against the other.