News

How to Approach Mediation

12 Oct 2015

If you’re in the middle of a dispute, you’ll know how stressful and worrying a time this can be. The good news is there are ways of finding a positive way through and one of these is mediation. Here’s our advice about how best to approach this.

In preparing for mediation it’s important to take a structured approach about what is wanted to settle the dispute.

We always recommend setting out a skeleton argument, as well as preparing a speech that sounds like an opening and a draft cross-examination. But before doing so, remember that mediators are appointed as facilitators and not decision makers. This means they will help the parties arrive at a solution, but they will not be persuaded about your case, or that of the other party.

A good place to start is to consider what each party wants to see and hear in order to reach an agreement, which could be considerably different from what a judge would require.

This is not about the merits of the case, but more about what each party will personally accept considering their interests and needs, rather than wants. After all, since the mediation is voluntary, unlike the court, the parties can walk away if they do not like what they hear or are not convinced about the argument.

Achieving the successful resolution of a dispute requires hard work and preparation. It will serve you well if you look at your case and consider all the different outcomes that could occur, from the best to the worst. It’s critical to be realistic about what might result.

Sometimes during mediation facts are disclosed and more information is provided that changes people’s attitude to the case. The impact of costs in relation to the case and the exposure to the risks involved also have a bearing.

The important thing is to give mediation a try - it costs considerably less than litigation, and if used early in the dispute, can avoid a great deal of stress and anxiety. Equally, mediation carried out well can help establish ongoing relationships and sometimes even enable future business transactions between the parties in dispute.