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About Mediation

Mediators help those in dispute communicate about the issues of concern to them, and helps participants find solutions that are acceptable to everybody involved.

Mediation is a confidential process that gives parties control over the outcome. Mediators might provide participants with information about what the law says in particular circumstance or options available to parties, but they do so from a neutral perspective with no interest in the outcome of the dispute and cannot impose a solution.

In civil commercial mediation, offers can be made without influencing what happens if the dispute is eventually resolved in court (known as offers made ‘without prejudice’) which can enable participants to try to reach a settlement without compromising their position.

In workplace and community, mediation going formal or legal processes are put on hold. Parties can return to these if the mediation doesn’t work although they cannot use information revealed in the mediation.

Are mediators regulated?

Although there is no statutory regulation of mediators, the CMC runs a system of voluntary regulation for civil/commercial and workplace mediators and providers. Mediators and providers registered with the CMC abide by a Code of Conduct, have been trained to acceptable industry standards, have suitable insurance, carry out continuing training and development, and offer access to a complaints process if needed.

The Family Mediation Council runs a similar scheme for family mediators.

Is there a right time to mediate?

In any field of mediation, it is difficult to think of a wrong time to mediate. In civil commercial mediation it is often a matter of balancing risk against cost. The earlier in the dispute it is decided to mediate, the less detailed information will be available. So parties have to weigh the possibility of important information becoming available in the future, for example in disclosure, against having less, and perhaps more general, information with the costs being minimal. At the other extreme, full disclosure, witness statements and expert reports are notoriously expensive, and this needs to be weighed against the level of reduced risk that accompanies more information being available.

Common wisdom is that the best time to mediate is before disclosure and witness statements but after each party, particularly their lawyers, fully understand each other’s position in the dispute.

In workplace and community mediation it is the sooner the better.   Left to fester, a conflict in the workplace or community will often escalate causing more damage, not just for the parties but to those around them. Once a mediator gets involved and gives everyone an opportunity to express their views in a safe environment parties can start to get a better understanding of the cost and consequences of the dispute and make a more informed choice.

Small Claims

If the value of your claim is under £10,000, you will be able to access the confidential telephone mediation service offered by the Court Service if you issue your claim at court, and this is defended. A court fee is charged when you issue any claim, but no separate charge is made for the mediation.

To access the service, you will need to issue a small claim with the court (see https://www.gov.uk/make-money-claim). If the other party defends the case, you will be sent a form to complete called a Directions Questionnaire; you should select ‘Yes’ when you are asked if you want your claim to be referred to the Small Claims Mediation Service and then complete the relevant details.

You can find out more about the Small Claims Mediation Service here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/small-claims-mediation-service-ex730