What happens at mediation?

1. Pre-mediation

Often the mediator contacts the parties and may arrange to meet them either together or separately in what are called ‘preliminary meetings’, to deal with process issues.

2. Mediator's opening statement

The mediator ensures that the parties understand the process, its aims and the role of each of those present.

3. Parties' statements

The parties are asked to tell the mediator and the other party/ies why they are at mediation, and are encouraged (not forced) to speak on their own behalf. Parties and advisers/lawyers are informed of this procedure during any preliminary meeting.

4. Summarising

The mediator briefly summarises the statements made by the parties and/or their advisers/lawyers.

5. Agenda-setting (issue identification)

The mediator isolates the topics for discussion between the parties. These topics are expressed in a simple and neutral fashion, and become the agenda for the mediation. The parties can add to these.

6. Issue exploration

The mediator encourages the parties to discuss each topic/issue in turn. Only when all topics have been discussed (or an opportunity for such discussion has been provided) does the mediator move to private session. The greatest benefit is usually gained by keeping the parties together as long as possible so that they have ample opportunity to understand the problem from each other’s perspective.

7. Private sessions

When all issues have been explored, the mediator usually speaks to the parties privately to gauge how it is going, consider options and perform a ‘reality test’. Each party is given equal opportunity.

8. Subsequent joint session

When the parties have had an opportunity to identify and evaluate some of the options for resolution, the parties meet to directly negotiate all or parts of a potential solution.

9. Private sessions

The mediator checks with the parties that the solution that they are about to agree to is in fact the solution that will work for them. This helps to ensure that there are no outstanding issues and the parties are comfortable with the proposed solution.

10. Agreement/Closing

The parties are encouraged to sign at least a ‘Heads of Agreement’ before they leave the mediation. The lawyers, rather than the mediator, usually write the agreement. The mediator checks that the agreement covers all the points discussed between the parties.

Find a mediator