The benefits of using a mediator in the UK

A mediator is a neutral third party who assists people to resolve disputes through negotiation. This can be a cheaper, more flexible and less stressful alternative to going to court.

Benefits of mediation

Mediation has been on the rise in recent years. This form of alternative dispute resolution is often associated with arbitration, although the two are significantly different.

The benefits of mediation for UK businesses are numerous, but they vary depending on the industry, the dispute and even the mediator. UK businesses most commonly cite:

  • The avoidance of full litigation costs as the reason for attempting mediation, which is probably the most crucial benefit of this service
  • UK businesses that are able to settle a dispute through mediation are much more likely to work together in the future

This is because unlike in court cases, mediation works by bringing each party closer to the other side, attempting to arrive at a mutually acceptable compromise. Once this is reached there is much less of the lingering resentment that often follows a court decision.

The other significant benefit is of course the matter of time. A mediation that progresses smoothly and results in a compromise can, in theory, resolve a dispute in one day. Litigation or arbitration proceedings typically take much longer.

The main legal aspect of mediation which solicitors are likely to inform you of is that mediation is not legally binding. This means that if you attend mediation you are under no legal obligation to accept any offered settlement.

Choosing the right mediator

It is important to choose an appropriately specialised mediator. They need to have the required contextual knowledge to understand your dispute and the issues involved.

A certified and accredited mediator will:

  • Be a registered member of the Civil Mediation Council in England and Wales
  • Belong to the Scottish Mediation Service, managed by the Scottish Mediation Network, in Scotland
  • Belong to the Mediation Northern Ireland Service in Northern Ireland

In addition, the skills required of a mediator vary. In family mediation, it is critical for the mediator to be sensitive and empathetic. On the other hand, in commercial disputes the mediator is likely to be hard-headed and focused on reaching a pragmatic solution quickly.
There are different styles of mediation. For example:

  • Facilitative mediation focuses on providing a forum for the parties to negotiate, and encouraging them to empathise with one another
  • Evaluative mediation involves the mediator taking a more interventionist role and is geared towards reaching a settlement based on the legal rights of the parties

The skills and knowledge required for each kind of mediation are somewhat different. If you are interested in using the services of a mediator, Contact Law can refer you to recommended professional mediators specialising in a range of dispute areas.

If you are interested in resolving a legal dispute through the work of a mediator, UK solicitors can also commonly help. Litigation solicitors can sometimes work as mediators or they can advise on the applicability of mediation in your particular case.

Want to know more? Find out what disputes mediation is suitable for.

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