Common myths about mediation
Q: Isn’t mediation for people who have a weak case?
A: The potential for success is high and those who believe they have a strong case can use the process to convince the other parties. Mediation provides an opportunity for cases to be looked at in detail and considered with greater care than usual. Misunderstandings are often resolved face to face that otherwise would involve protracted correspondence. Compromise is less important that creative and imaginative solutions that may not have been considered previously, and the opportunity to rebuild trust and re-establish a working relationship. A genuine offer to mediate can also protect the parties in relation to legal costs.
Q: Why go to mediation? – we have already tried negotiating and there is no point in further discussion.
A: However skilled or able one party or their representative, the key component of mediation is the introduction of an independent neutral third party which has usually not been tried. Proposals from one party in the course of negotiation can also be viewed with suspicion and even a genuine attempt to resolve disagreement may not be effective if the parties do not perceive there is neutrality in the process. A mediator who is completely detached from the problem, its emotions and pressures can manage the process is an impartial way and focus on options for mutual gain, enabling results which were not achievable outside the mediation.
Q: Mediation is a waste of time if parties are too entrenched and lacking in trust, isn’t it?
A: The process is often the first time parties have had an opportunity to listen and be heard in the safe environment of a neutral third party. Parties who appear to be unmovable outside mediation are often putting their best case forward and refusing to accept other options. These are precisely the kind of cases where negotiation cannot proceed further without the intervention of a mediator to help break the deadlock. Our mediator panel and specialists in breaking deadlock and well used to helping to resolve cases which were previously seen as beyond hope!
Q: Isn’t mediation just about compromise and meeting half way?
A: Most settlements are creative solutions and do not just represent a simple splitting of differences. A variety of methods are used in mediation to break deadlock and often the solution is not something that either party had considered prior to the process. One of the advantages is that parties can examine issues perceived to be important in detail and remain in control of options which can include the past, present and future – there is no limit to what can be discussed, unlike in more formal legal settings where feelings, emotions, trust and confidence, correcting misunderstanding and rebuilding relationships are often of little significance.
Q: Will mediation prejudice my legal rights?
A: The process is not a bar to separate legal action. Mediation can be helpful to reduce the number of issues in dispute even where no solution is reached. Parties remain in control of what is revealed to others throughout the process and the whole mediation process is confidential and conducted on a ‘without prejudice’ basis. In fact, if one party does not wish to make an offer or settlement it can be presented as the idea of the mediator. Put simply, mediation simply offers an increased chance of settlement and for this reason is usually encouraged by the court. An agreement can be made binding at the end of the process if all parties wish to sign a formal settlement.