Mediation has increasingly become an effective and encouraged form of alternative dispute resolution (‘ADR‘) as a way of resolving a dispute between two parties outside of court, thus often saving time and money.
Typically a mediator is an objective third party whose role is to facilitate and assist the disputing parties in coming to an agreement. A professional mediator brings his or her experience, knowledge and learned techniques to the table to ensure the most effective outcome to the mediation.
Article 4 of the EU Mediation Directive introduced in 2008 states that to ensure the quality of mediation “Member States shall encourage, by any means which they consider appropriate, the development of, and adherence to, voluntary codes of conduct by mediators and organisations providing mediation services, as well as other effective quality control mechanisms concerning the provision of mediation services“. Furthermore “Member States shall encourage the initial and further training of mediators in order to ensure that the mediation is conducted in an effective, impartial and competent way in relation to the parties.”
A mediator will employ a variety of techniques, skills and his or her own personality traits in order to help two parties come to an agreement. For example a mediator will use active listening skills to understand and evaluate each party’s presentation of the facts and their state of mind when they do this, and will use their interpersonal skills to establish a good relationship and build trust with each party from the outset of the mediation process.
On top of this personal approach that a mediator might employ based on his or her experience of past mediation cases and professional training, a mediator must adhere to some basic ethical standards and a common code of conduct:
A mediator should:
- Demonstrate competence and professionalism from the outset;
- Remain impartial and objective throughout the mediation process
- Avoid conflict of interests or reveal any possible conflicts of interests that could arise;
- Ensure they have the appropriate level of training and expertise in the relevant field;
- Maintain confidentiality at all times within the framework of the law;
- Ensure all participants understand the mediation process; and
- Be mindful of the physical and mental well being of all parties involved in the mediation.