Mediation is a consensual process of alternate dispute resolution in which a neutral third party (the mediator) assists two or more parties to negotiate an agreement with concrete effects on a matter of common interest. More simply put, it is the management of other people’s negotiations.


A mediator creates a space in which two or more disputing parties are able to listen to each other in a new way and jointly arrive at their own solution. The role of the mediator is therefore to be a facilitator of communication.

The mediator’s task is to enable the parties to listen to each other on a deeper level than their previous hostile attitudes allowed. A mediator must ensure that the parties have heard each other adequately, and that each has developed sufficient understanding of the others’ perceptions, motivations and interests.

Improved listening then leads to better mutual understanding, which strengthens the imperative to reach an inclusive solution, as far as possible taking the interests of all parties into consideration.

In order to achieve theses objectives, the mediation process is served by a basic procedural structure. This includes the establishment of process ground rules by the parties themselves, ample time for storytelling, uninterrupted time for each side to state their perceptions and feelings, and joint problem solving. In this way, mediation enables parties to retain their self respect and the outcome is generally more sustainable.


Mediation is an extremely useful tool in situations where parties need to cooperate in future because the level of interdependence is high. It is also highly appropriate in conflicts fuelled by basic difference in values or world views. Under such conditions the emphasis of mediation on promoting mutual understanding and on improving relationships is to be preferred over approaches that rely on other dispute resolution mechanisms.

Mediation as a preferred dispute resolution process, in relation to other processes:

People in business are beginning to realise that litigation is often costly, both financially and in terms of organisational stress and time consuming for individuals across different parts of the organisation. As the litigation process focuses on a strict interpretation of applicable laws, the outcomes produced by litigation often ignore the interests and needs of the parties – economic and business factors are not considered by the court. They are also beginning to realise that cost saving is not just a business imperative, but an ethical one as well.

• Is quicker
• Is cheaper and more cost effective
• Is confidential allows for a choice of mediator
• Is flexible
• Allows for creative solutions
• Empowers the parties to retain control over the process and own the outcome
• Accommodates and facilitates the possibility of ongoing relationships results in a higher
. degree of compliance with the outcome


Mediation involves families in conflict working out arrangements for themselves and their children with the help of neutral and skilled mediators. Mediators encourage couples to reach joint decisions where ever possible and may sometimes refer couples or their children for therapy or counselling.

Any agreement reached during mediation is to be taken for independent legal advice by the participants. It can then be formalized into a legally binding agreement.

Mediators treat all discussions as confidential, except where someone’s life or welfare may be in danger. Financial information disclosed during mediation may be used by either participant should there subsequently be court proceedings. However, the discussions that take place during mediation are “ without prejudice: , i.e privileged and confidential and may not be referred to or used in court. This ensures that a safe environment is created whereby a settlement can be reached.


Any or all of the problems that arise when couples spilt up can be brought to mediation:

• Arrangements which concern the children, such as drawing up an parenting plan
. which would included contact and care arrangements
• Maintenance – child and spousal
• Property and financial matters.
. Each mediation session usually lasts two hours. The number of sessions needed
. depends on the nature of the problems – generally 3 to 6 sessions are necessary.
. The charges for mediation sessions are payable at the end of each session.
. Responsibility for payment of mediation fees may be shared between the parties in
. any way they may agree.

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