What is mediation?

Mediation is an informal, but structured settlement procedure. A mediator is employed to facilitate and assist parties in reaching an amicable dispute settlement.

The main characteristics of mediation are that it provides; a voluntary, non-binding, confidential and interest-based procedure. Parties are free to terminate mediation at any time after the first meeting. No decision can be imposed on the parties involved, and they may or may not agree upon a negotiated settlement. The confidentiality principle assures that any options the parties discuss will not have consequences beyond the mediation process. Interest-based procedure means that the criteria established to reach resolution does not solely adhere to the law, instead it can include considerations concerning financial, business and personal interests as well.

The role of the mediator is to assist the parties in reaching a negotiated agreement. Unlike an arbitrator, the mediator is not a decision-maker. In a facilitative mediation, the mediator merely assists the parties in their communication and negotiations. In an evaluative mediation, the mediator also provides a non-binding assessment of the dispute.

Main benefits

In general, mediation can be applied to all sorts of disputes. One of the main benefits of mediation is that the parties can agree to take into account a broad range of aspects, especially concerning commercial and business interests. The process is flexible and can be tailored to the individual needs of parties. However, mediation might not be the right instrument to resolve a dispute, especially if for example; the parties are in need of a precedent, or if one party seeks public vindication, or if one or both parties require a neutral (legal) opinion.