Mediation – What is it?
- Mediation is a cost effective way for disputing parties to attempt to come to an agreed resolution of a dispute. Unlike an arbitrator the mediator does not impose a decision on the parties.
- The independent mediator’s role is to assist the parties in reaching their own resolution agreement. While the mediator will guide the discussion and promote mutual understanding, the mediator will not usually express a view about the merits of the matter, nor will the mediator offer advice to any party.
- A dispute is settled when the parties reach their own resolution agreement.
- If a resolution is agreed on at mediation, the impact in terms of financial cost, time and emotional energy is far less that if the matter had gone to Court.
- Mediation takes place in a private setting, as opposed to a hearing in open court, and discussions are confidential (they cannot be used in Court, nor discussed with others outside the mediation)
- Mediation is often used to focus on outcomes for the future, rather than a Court imposing liability for something done in the past.
What types of dispute can be mediated?
Mediation is generally a suitable option for resolving a wide range of conflict situations varying from neighbourhood disputes through to family, commercial and workplace disputes. Most disputes are capable of resolution through mediation. Exceptions may include cases involving violence.
Parties select an independent mediator through mutual agreement and usually meet on neutral ground at a venue specially designed for mediation.
How do I find a Mediator?
Lists of trained mediators are maintained by The Victorian Bar, The Law Institute of Victoria, and various other industry organisations and normally published on their websites.
- The cost of mediation will vary according to factors such as the nature and complexity of the dispute, the cost of the mediator and venue, and whether the parties have engaged lawyers
- Almost all mediations are conducted in a day or less
- The process is most efficient when the parties are properly prepared for the mediation. This may require a conference on a day prior to the mediation, or on the day of the mediation itself.
- In the first instance the parties usually bear the cost of the mediator and venue hire in equal shares, with the ultimate liability for the total cost of the mediation being at the discretion of the court if the dispute proceeds to hearing.