Mediation Terminology

In order to understand what mediation is and how the process works, it’s important to be familiar with the terminology involved. Below is a glossary of key terms and acronyms regularly referred to in mediation:

Active Listening – A form of listening that focuses completely on what the other person is saying, including body language reflective of listening which also conveys understanding of the content of what is being said and emotion it is being delivered in.

ADR – Alternative Dispute Resolution. Refers to any kind of dispute resolution that avoids litigation.

Adjudication – Adjudication is a compulsory method for resolving disputes in the construction industry, introduced in the UK in 1996 by the Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act (the Construction Act). Learn more about Adjudication. 

Arbitration – A form of alternative dispute resolution which involves the appointment of an independent third party who will bring an end to the parties’ dispute by making a binding decision as to its correct outcome based on the evidence brought before him. Learn more about Arbitration.

BATNA – Best Alternative To Negotiated Agreement. A measure developed by Roger Fisher and William Ury of the Harvard Negotiation Project. It enables negotiating parties to evaluate their options and is the best result that a party could hope for if it called off the negotiations.

Caucus – A private and separate meeting between the mediator and each disputing party.

CEDR Accredited Mediator – Individuals who are now classed as accredited mediators, having reached the required standard for passing CEDR’s five-day mediator training course.

Co-mediation – When two or more mediators are used in the same mediation process.

Confidentiality – All parties, mediators and observers taking part in a mediation will agree up front that no information revealed in the mediation process will be shared or disclosed outside the mediation.

Expert Determination – The use of an independent expert to decide the dispute outcome.

Evaluative Mediation – A mediation approach where the mediator has a much greater part to play in determining the outcome of the mediation, and the mediation approach is based much more on evaluating the legal position of each party.

Facilitative Mediation – A mediation approach where the mediator assists the two parties in coming to a resolution based on the information available. The mediator leads the process, but the parties are responsible for agreeing the outcome with the mediator’s help.

Impartiality – An essential attitude for a mediator, they will not favour one party or the other’s perspective and must treat both as equal.

Impasse – Parties within a mediation are unwilling or unable to reach compromise.

Joint Sessions – Part of the mediation process where parties are brought together. The Opening Joint Session consists of an introduction by the mediator and each party presenting their case.

Litigation – A type of dispute resolution involving an impartial third party hearing both sides’ argument and issuing a judgement.

Med-Arb – When mediation does not lead to settlement, a process in which parties agree to give the mediator arbitration power to make a legally binding decision.

Mediation – A structured, confidential process in which a neutral third party assists disputing parties in working towards negotiating a settlement.

Mediator – A trained professional who remains neutral to assist participants in a mediation to reach a mutually agreeable consensus.

Opening Statement – Oral presentations which take place after the mediator’s opening address that allow each party to present their case.

Reality testing – A tool used by mediators to help parties test what they see by outlining to them the picture they have drawn of their position. This can help participants stay flexible and open-minded in the process.

Reframing – A tool used by mediators to change around the order in which words and ideas are presented, in order for participants to see the point more clearly, differently or more positively.

Resolution – An agreement or partial agreement; this may be underpinned by a settlement agreement document.

Settlement Agreement – A brief document setting out the key terms of the negotiated agreement or resolution.

Transformative Mediation – A mediation approach based on the concept that two parties’ relationship may be transformed during the mediation process, empowering parties to come to their own resolution through their own chosen mediation structure.

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