Over the last number of years, mediation has become increasingly used or considered as an alternative dispute resolution process in Ireland. According to the CEDR Ireland/ICMA Mediation Audit 2013, mediations have increased by 739% between 2003 and 2012 and 73% of all mediations surveyed reached agreement. The following is a general guide for clients to explain what the process is and how the process operates in practice as a method of resolving disputes.
What is Mediation?
Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), which can be used as a way of resolving a dispute between two or more parties with the assistance of a mediator who acts as a neutral third party and facilitates the process with a view to the parties voluntarily negotiating a settlement of their dispute.
Mediation usually has a structure, timetable and process established and agreed by the parties with the mediator which can help it to be a more effective dispute resolution process than a traditional settlement meeting. The process is private, confidential, without prejudice and non-binding, although the objective is to reach a resolution of the dispute by agreeing a binding settlement agreement.
What are the potential benefits of mediation?
Voluntary and confidential process where participants determine the outcome for themselves rather than it being determined by a Judge or an Arbitrator.
Offers a wider range of possible outcomes than can ever be determined by a Court.
Provides an opportunity for the parties to fully participate in the process and therefore, to feel very much part of a successful outcome.
Avoids the potential risk of the significant costs in litigation.
The mediator can act as an impartial facilitator to a resolution.
Ideally suited to multi-party litigation or otherwise complex disputes.
Mediation is also appropriate as a method of resolving interpersonal disputes such as those that arise in the workplace, in clubs, in an educational context, etc.
Even an unsuccessful mediation can educate the parties on the strengths and weaknesses of their case and the risks involved which may facilitate resolution in due course.
Can allow disputes to be resolved in circumstances where a necessary on going relationship between the parties can be maintained.
What is the role of the mediator?
The role of the mediator is not set in stone. Typically the mediator acts as a neutral third party and facilitates rather than directs the process. At all times, the...