Mediation is a confidential process in which the participants to a dispute, with the assistance of an ADR practitioner (mediator), identify the disputed issues, develop options, consider alternatives, and endeavour to reach an agreement about their conflict. The mediator has no advisory role in regard to the content of the dispute or the outcome of its resolution, but may advise on or determine the process of mediation to be used in order to attempt to resolve the issues
Mediation may be undertaken either voluntarily by the parties, under a Court order, or subject to an existing contractual agreement
All negotiations during mediation are non-binding and confidential
Parties agree to negotiate in good faith and work towards a mutually acceptable agreement
Any party including the mediator may withdraw from the mediation at any time
Any settlement reached as a result of the mediation is written down by the parties and an agreement signed by each side in order to complete the mediation process. Once signed this agreement is as binding and enforceable as any other contract
2. Why mediation?
Mediation is usually a voluntary negotiation process focused on resolving the problem rather than debating a legal issue
Mediation is both quicker and less expensive than litigation without the stress
The mediation process is more flexible and not bound by Court procedures and protocols
Mediation allows each party to achieve what they want when formulating a solution to the dispute
The parties play an active role in the process. They are able to express their frustrations, feelings and interests and hear those of the opposing parties. This enables the parties to address all the issues and reach solutions that would not be possible via litigation
The parties find their own solution to the dispute, and are therefore more likely to be satisfied with the outcome
The mediation process is not adversarial, and therefore helps to maintain and even restore relationships for the future
3. Is Mediation Confidential?
Yes. The mediation is held in private sessions and is not open to the public
All parties involved in mediation are subject to a confidentiality agreement. Unless otherwise required by law, the details and discussions from the mediation cannot be given later as evidence in any ensuing Court proceeding
Private discussions held with the mediator by one of the parties during the mediation are also confidential
Apart from any actual agreement reached during mediation, no details of the mediation are recorded for the future
4. What is the role of the mediator?
The mediator’s role is to manage and facilitate the communication, negotiation, and the decision making processes between the parties
The mediator aims to be neutral and impartial, he or she does not establish the facts or decide which of the parties is right or wrong
The mediator defines some courtesy ground rules: respect for everyone present and allowing each person to speak without interruption during the mediation
The mediator uses his or her skills to assist the parties to explore the issues in depth and reach the best possible outcome for the given circumstances
The mediator assists the parties communicate effectively with each other and maintain and build a good relationship through the process rather than allow the conflict to deteriorate further
5. Are mediators qualified ?
Yes. All Bridge Mediation mediators are trained, accredited mediators with relevant skills and experience
Bridge Mediation mediators have to comply with the National Mediation Accreditation System (NMAS) Practice Standards and also adhere to the Ethical Standards of their member organisations
They must also attend seminars regularly and continually update their skills by attending a minimum number of hours of professional development each year
Only Registered Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners may issue 60i certificates. These certificates are required for all new parenting disputes in family law cases, prior to filing for Court
6. Who should attend the mediation? My lawyer?
All parties to the dispute must attend the mediation. Where a party is not a natural person, for example, a company, a properly authorised person with written authority to settle the dispute is required to represent it
Yes. You can arrange for your legal representatives or a support person to attend the mediation. Details of who will attend the mediation will be discussed and agreed during the pre-mediation meeting
The roles of participants in the mediation will be clarified at the start of the mediation. A support person should not participate in the mediation
As the parties involved in the dispute are actively involved in the mediation process, legal representation is not necessary at a voluntary mediation. However both parties may want to have their professional advisors present if either the dispute or the solution is complex, or they feel more comfortable with some legal representation
7. What is the cost of the mediation?
The cost of mediation varies and depends on a number of factors including the time required to complete the mediation, any travel involved, etc..
If you can provide Bridge Mediation with some background to your dispute then we would be happy to provide you with an estimated cost of the mediation associated with your dispute
8. Who pays for the mediation?
The cost of the mediation is normally shared equally between all the parties
Each party usually pays its share of the expected cost of the mediation prior to the start of the mediation process
Each party pays for all their own costs associated with participating in the mediation
At the conclusion of the mediation, Bridge Mediation will either invoice the parties for any shortfall or refund them any excess payment
9. Why do we need to pay in advance?
Payment in advance by both parties is standard practice for mediations as it enables the mediator to obtain the commitment of both parties to participate in the mediation process
It also ensures that both parties have a vested interest in a successful and timely conclusion to the mediation process
10. Where does the mediation take place?
The time and place for the mediation is dependant upon the nature of the dispute
Mediations can be conducted at a suitable neutral venue or at a suitable location agreed to by all parties during the pre-mediation meeting
The starting time for the mediation will also agreed to by all parties during the pre-mediation meeting
Mediation requires a meeting room large enough for all participants to sit around a large table during the mediation. Each party also needs to have its own separate room for private discussions
We often use the meeting rooms at our Milsons Point offices to hold mediations.
11. How do I prepare for mediation?
Mediation is a continuation of your previous negotiation efforts, using a more structured process with a neutral mediator
Prior to the mediation you should consult with any advisors and fully understand all the legal aspects of your dispute
Determine how much your dispute has cost you to date, and what the costs will be if you have to go all the way to trial, and what the possible outcomes of the trail could be
Familiarise yourself with the mediation process and the various stages
Be prepared and know all your facts!
Be prepared to listen to the other parties. There are usually some unknowns and some surprises
Be prepared to identify and address the emotional issues associated with the dispute.
Determine the range of your options. Consider what would be your best outcome, the most likely outcome, and the worst possible acceptable outcome before you walk away from the mediation withno agreement.
Consider the strengths and weaknesses of the arguments most likely to be presented by the other parties
Consider the implications if you do not reach an agreement during the mediation process.
Be open minded, rational and objective. There may be some options leading to a solution which you have not considered so you may need to be flexible and change your mind during the mediation process
Be prepared to make smart or wise decisions. Mediation empowers the parties to reach their own agreements, however this requires you to be responsible for making decisions to achieve a solution.
Trust the mediator and the process. He or she is neutral and the process has a high success rate.