We think, each of us, that we are more rational than we are.
Daniel Kahnemann

Most disputes get resolved on their own, through negotiation. But some get stuck. One way to unlock these negotiations is through the use of a mediator.

Mediation has a structure and dynamics that do not exist in a typical negotiation. The tone and atmosphere is different in a mediation and this tends to produce a more measured approach.

The presence of the mediator – who is an active participant in the process – is the key distinguishing feature. Their focus is to help settle disputes quickly, thoroughly and with minimal disruption for both parties.

The mediator will bring structure and clarity to often messy and confusing situations. They will crystallize the issues and identify what is important for the parties; spend time exploring the validity of holding different points of view; and help to analyse what options are available. They will bring ‘an air of reality’ to negotiations; ensure a sense of proportion prevails; and make sure informed decisions are made. In short, the mediator will give the parties the best chance of reaching a settlement, if they wish to do so.

It is just as important, in the interest of balance, to recognize what mediation is not. It is not a panacea – mediation is not always appropriate, in every instance. It is not easy; it is hard work. It is rarely, if ever, a ‘win-win’.

Mediation does, however, allow for a more proportionate outcome, which may reflect more fairly the nuances of the case; and it brings finality – an end to the misery and the ushering in of a fresh start.

In the UK, Mediation is strongly encouraged by the courts and the Government.