If you’re involved in a dispute that hasn’t reached the court stage you can attend mediation to resolve your dispute. A mediator is neutral and helps you find solutions that are acceptable to everyone involved. It’s a less formal process than taking your case to court and you have more control over the outcome.
The mediation process varies depending on the type of dispute, but most start with an initial open session where everyone takes part face to face in a room. The mediator will explain the nature of mediation and set out any ground rules. They will then break the participants into their own private sessions to discuss their issues. During the sessions, the mediator will support you to explore and prioritise your issues, helping you to find practical solutions that are acceptable to both parties. They will also explain legal principles and explore different options with you both.
During the session, both of you will have the opportunity to speak freely about what is important to you. You will be able to express your feelings and needs without being criticised. The mediator will listen carefully to what you say and may ask questions. They will not give you legal advice but they can suggest options and point you in the direction of further information such as independent financial advisers or mortgage brokers.
At the end of each mediation session the mediator will write a report with their findings and send it to you. They will also arrange to meet with you again to finalise the details of your agreement. If you’re not eligible for legal aid the costs of attending family mediation are typically a fraction of the cost of litigation.
Mediation is a voluntary process and you can’t be forced to mediate, but courts recognise its value and will often encourage people to consider mediation. They can stay proceedings to allow time for mediation and can impose sanctions on parties who unreasonably refuse to mediate.
The Civil Mediation Council runs a system of voluntary regulation for civil/commercial and workplace mediators and providers. They must abide by a Code of Conduct and have adequate insurance. They are also required to offer a complaints procedure if needed. You can check the CMC’s register to see if your mediator is registered. mediation uk