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MEDIATION JOURNAL





It may be more important to secure an 'expert mediator’ rather than a 'mediator expert’.


even worse, that they may lose face. A mediator may, by speaking to the parties, be able to allay their fears and enable them to be willing to mediate face-to-face.


Nevertheless, the mediation process is entirely flexible: there are no rules of procedure or evidence, and the mediator should be able to accommodate all fears, needs and concerns. If parties do not want a ’joint meeting’ there does not have to be one, and the mediator can merely shuttle between the parties to find some common ground or achieve an accord.


Similarly, if a party is


reluctant to compromise, there will be no compulsion to do so: the outcome of the process is entirely under the control of the parties.


There is too much of a power imbalance, can a fair mediation to take place?


At mediation, the parties around the table are seen by the mediator as individuals, and it matters not whether they are the CEO or a lower-ranked employee. Mediators are trained and accustomed to deal with such power imbalances, and should not let themselves or the process be influenced by any inequalities. Part of their role is to ensure that any imbalance in the room is neutralised and that the parties feel comfortable to say what they need to say for them to be heard. The process is entirely confidential so parties are able to say things to the mediator which they feel unable to say to the other face-to- face. If and when the mediator ‘shuttles’ between rooms the parties can give the mediator permission to disclose something to the other side on their behalf. Otherwise, anything said to the mediator remains with the mediator.


What if one of the parties is off sick’? Can they mediate?


Unless a party is physically unwell and therefore unable to participate in a mediation, there is no legal reason for a mediation not to take place, provided they are entering into it voluntarily.


Mediation is often used as a process


to help parties return to work after a period of sick leave. It can be a good opportunity to resolve issues before they start back at work. Again, it may be good to discuss this with the mediator or perhaps to have the mediator discuss this with the party.


What should I consider when choosing mediator?


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Although it is not necessary for a mediator to have in-depth industry knowledge in order to be able to effectively mediate, it can sometimes help to put the parties at ease and build trust and rapport with them more quickly. The parties may feel more comfortable if the mediator is familiar with the characteristic features and special jargon used in their dispute area or sector. However, a mediator must remain impartial and neutral, and this neutrality can be severely tested if a mediator is perceived to have expertise in the subject matter of the dispute: if a party begins to question the mediator’s impartiality, it could potentially harm the success of the mediation.


Consequently, it may be more important to secure an ‘expert mediator’ rather than a ‘mediator expert’. A more important quality for a good mediator is the ability to create respect and trust with both parties; and therefore you may need to consider a mediator with whom the parties will feel comfortable to speak openly – someone with patience and approachability, yet who has the presence and authority with which to command respect.


Many mediators will promote their percentage rates of successful mediations. This is not always indicative of a good mediator. The mediator, whilst wanting to help parties come to a mutually agreeable resolution, should not have a stake in a successful outcome: if a mediator is motivated by a need to maintain a good settlement rate, rather than focus upon the true needs and interests of both parties,


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For example, they may rush for a resolution which, as a consequence, is more likely to unravel later.


Should you wish to submit your questions to the UK Mediation Journal team, please contact:


cmp resolutions experts@ukmediationjournal.co.ukProfessional mediators


Mediators with over 20 years’ experience of workplace mediating


PROFESSIONAL MEDIATORS Professional mediators


Mediators with over 20 years’ experience of workplace mediating


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