Alternative Dispute Resolution Specialists

What is Mediation?

Mediation is generally defined as the process by which someone tries to end a disagreement by helping the two sides to talk about and agree on a solution.

The acceptable third party has no authoritative decision-making power but rather assists the involved parties to voluntarily reach a mutually acceptable settlement of the issues in dispute. In addition to addressing substantive issues, mediation may also establish or strengthen relationships of trust and respect between the parties or terminate relationships in a manner that minimises emotional cost and psychological harm. Below are the mediation services offered:

The last component of the definition describes mediation as a voluntary process to reach a mutually acceptable settlement of issues in dispute. Voluntary generally refers to both freely chosen participation and freely made agreements. Parties are not forced to mediate and settle by either an internal or external party to a dispute.

There is no legal liability to any party refusing to participate in a mediation process.

Since a mediator has no authority unilaterally to impose a decision on the parties, he cannot threaten the recalcitrant party with a judgement.

Voluntary participation does not however mean that there may not be pressure to try mediation. Other disputants or external figures, such as friends, colleagues at work, constituents, authoritative leaders, or judges, may put significant pressure on a party to try negotiation with the assistance of a mediator. Some courts in family and civil cases rule that parties must make a good faith effort in mediation before the court will be willing to hear the case. See:

Attempting mediation does not mean the participants are forced to reach agreements but the process rather strives to bring about transformation where there is conflict.

Adapted from:

Moore, Christopher W., 2003. The mediation process: practical strategies for resolving conflict. 3rd edition: PB Printing

An article by Jim Melamed