At any stage in a dispute, whether or not proceedings have been started, the parties can refer the dispute to a mediator by agreement. The mediator will advise on the appropriate length of time for the mediation – generally between half to one day. The objective is to achieve settlement on the day. Cases referred to Monmouthshire Mediation Practice will be allocated to the appropriate mediator taking into account the subject matter, availability of mediators and, of course, the preference of the parties.
The location can be arranged to suit the parties. Factors include cost, travel arrangements and the number of people attending. We use a number of venues and can advise parties as to the most suitable for their particular dispute. Sometimes mediating by telephone is an option and we are happy to discuss this on a case by case basis.
At a time and venue convenient to both parties, the mediation is held. On arrival the parties are welcomed by the mediator and allocated separate rooms. Usually a short joint opening session is held where the ground rules for the mediation are set out and each party is invited to make brief opening statement outlining the dispute.
The parties then return to their separate rooms and the mediator spends time with each party in turn, as many times as necessary, to explore the dispute in more detail and to see whether there are any areas in which there may be the basis for agreement.
In these private sessions, discussions between the party and the mediator are confidential. This means that the parties can be completely candid in a way that would not be possible in litigation, enabling the mediator to see easily potential areas of agreement and to explore with each party individually whether there is a possibility of reaching such agreement. The mediator will reveal information to the other party only with permission of the party disclosing that information and will seek that permission where it is likely to bring the parties towards settlement.
Nothing that happens in the mediation is binding unless settlement is reached, at which point it is written down and signed by the parties. Until this happens, everything is “without prejudice” – that is, no information exchanged between the parties during the course of the mediation in an effort to reach settlement can be referred to in any ongoing litigation.
The mediation concludes with a final joint session where the mediator will summarise the position reached. When an agreement is reached it is drawn up and signed, and can be enforced through the courts if necessary.