Since the mid-1960s mediation has grown significantly as a formal and widely practised approach to community, international, corporate, commercial and family dispute resolution.
Mediation may be defined as a voluntary, non-binding and private dispute resolution process in which a neutral, person helps the parties reach a mutually acceptable negotiated settlement of the issues in dispute.
In addition to addressing substantive issues, mediation may also establish or strengthen relationships in a manner that minimise emotional costs and psychological harm.
Mediation is nearly always a better form of dispute resolution than litigation or arbitration.
Most disputes result from poor communication. Mediation is an opportunity to communicate better–to be fully heard, to present your story, and to search for mutually satisfactory solutions. In mediation people often communicate more effectively with one another than in arbitration or court.
Another advantage of mediation is that innovative solutions to a problem may be explored. You can create your own solutions rather than have a judge or arbitrator impose a decision on you. Thus, you maintain the power to decide rather than have someone else decide for you.
The outcome of mediation generally produces more satisfaction and compliance among its participants than those who use litigation.
The main advantages of attempting to reach agreement by mediation are:
■ You are directly involved in negotiating your own agreement.
■ No settlement can be imposed upon you (as happens in litigation or arbitration).
■ The proceedings are conducted in private, and you are in control of your own position.
■ Because mediation can be used early in a dispute an agreement can be reached more quickly than may be the case when pursuing the problem through the courts.
■ You have the services of an experienced person who can aid your negotiations, and assist in achieving a quick settlement.
■ Generally the cost is greatly reduced in comparison with pursuing the matter through the courts or arbitration.
■ The Mediator may be able to explore alternative solutions that may not have been considered by the parties or are not possible or available through the courts.
■ It is possible to re-establish a positive relationship between the parties once the dispute is resolved.
■ If the Mediation is unsuccessful you have neither prejudiced or sacrificed any legal rights nor delayed significantly any ultimate settlement by the legal process