Association of Cambridge Mediators
Telephone: 01223 370063
Mediation is a negotiation facilitated by a neutral person. Solicitors have of course always settled cases for their clients without mediation. However mediation provides a process for those cases which have not settled for whatever reason. It is effective for the following reasons:-
Mediation is a voluntary process so it is only possible if both sides agree to it. We are happy to talk to any party about how mediation works.
If there is agreement to mediate, any party can contact us to fix a date for the mediation. Once the date is fixed, each party pays their fee.
Then each party prepares a short briefing statement for the mediator. The statement should briefly set out the facts and issues as far as that party is concerned. Copies of key documents should be supplied with the statement, such as any relevant contract. The parties may agree on the key documents to avoid duplication, but it is not essential.
It is preferable for each party’s briefing statement and any documents to be lodged with the mediator a week or so before the mediation. A copy should be sent to the other side at the same time.
Any party can also, if they wish, prepare a confidential briefing statement for the eyes of the mediator only - the mediator will keep it confidential and not communicate its contents to any other party unless specifically authorised to do so.
Meanwhile we send the parties’ solicitors a standard form mediation agreement for their approval.
The mediator may visit the solicitors on each side briefly before the mediation to introduce himself or herself in an informal way, but in any case would usually telephone the solicitors on each side (or the parties themselves if there are no solicitors) before the mediation.
The mediator will clarify that all parties will have authority to settle the dispute at the mediation.
The parties arrive fifteen minutes or so before the mediation. The mediator greets them separately and arranges for them to sign the mediation agreement.
The mediator will then spend a little time with each party separately to see how they stand and to consider with each party how best to proceed.
There may then be a joint meeting if the mediator considers it appropriate and if the parties agree. This is the most formal part of the process. The mediator invites all present to introduce themselves and then sets out the ground rules. The essential ground rules are:-
Each party is then invited by the mediator to state their case uninterrupted, taking up to about ten minutes. It is often preferable for the parties themselves to do this, but they may choose to ask their solicitors to do it.
After that the mediator usually sees each side separately again. There is no hard and fast rule about how a mediation is conducted. The mediator aims to establish a good relationship with each side by listening to what they say and seeking to understand the dispute from their point of view. The mediator can then assist the parties to negotiate, either by further separate meetings or by bringing the parties together if appropriate.
If agreement can eventually be reached, it will normally be put into writing and signed there and then.
Mediation is not always easy - it can be challenging and uncomfortable. It is also common for parties to feel part way through the mediation that they are wasting their time, that the other side are not prepared to give anything at all and that they might as well leave. Our mediator will always ask the parties to persevere with the process, and it is usually possible to work through the obstacles with the mediator’s assistance to arrive at a deal.
Mediation is above all a negotiation. In any negotiation you want to persuade the other side that you have a strong case and that they should therefore settle with you on terms favourable to you. The parties and their solicitors should therefore prepare themselves for a negotiation. If a party is going to say for example that they suffered damage from alleged negligence, they should be prepared to produce whatever is necessary to persuade the other side of that, including perhaps a calculation of damages and supporting documents.
If you feel your case is strong but you cannot persuade the other side of that, then you may not be able to settle or you may have to settle for less than you would like.
Usually it is essential to bring with you to the mediation (a) details of your legal costs to date and (b) an estimate of future legal costs up to and including any trial.
It sometimes becomes apparent during the mediation that further work is needed by the parties. In that case it is possible for the mediation to be suspended so that the parties can for example exchange further information. The mediation can then be resumed at a later date if settlement is not achieved in the meantime.
Each side should consider in this context how strongly they wish to put their case in the opening joint session. It may be helpful to express a willingness to settle if you think that that will assist in the negotiation. But it is up to each party to judge what they think is in their own best interests.
We hope that you will find that mediation is a positive and satisfactory experience, and we will do our best to ensure that it is. However if you are dissatisfied with the performance of our mediator or our service desk in any way, please do not hesitate to let us know. A copy of our complaints procedure is available on request.
"As a means of finding common goals and moving forward, I cannot praise this process highly enough. It is amazing, it’s not a case of winning or losing, it’s a case of moving forward – something that I was previously unable to do."
"Excellent at letting us talk as we needed to, but also not letting us leave a subject without some kind of resolution."
"I found the mediator to be very patient, very good at listening, a skilled communicator and very diplomatic and professional."