What are the benefits of mediation?
Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution which is widely used in family law and personal disputes as an alternative to a court hearing.
Parties to mediation will often seek legal advice in any event, and may even instruct a solicitor for mediation, although it is often intended to replace the use of expensive legal representation in complex disputes.
The main feature of mediation is that it is voluntary. Both parties must assent to the use of mediation to get the ball rolling, but either party is free to end the use of mediation at any time if they feel that it is not working or that they would prefer to approach the resolution of the dispute in a different way.
Mediation uses a trained and independent mediator to get the discussion going, and to literally mediate between each side.
Often, parties will meet a mediator independently of one another to begin with, presenting their side of the dispute in a non-confrontational environment in which they can be free to express themselves openly. The mediator is then able to gauge the points of contention for each side in a professional manner, and can move discussions towards those topics.
In most people's opinion the main advantage of mediation is that it is open, non-confrontational, and tailors the discussion to the parties involved in the dispute.
Both parties can negotiate free of obligation, either with or without a solicitor. They can leave at any time, and so are only there because they want to be. This avoids a lot of wasted time in court and as a result frequently saves the parties considerable amounts of time and money.
Due to its success, courts will now often refer cases to mediation if they feel that a dispute is not moving forward, and will then look to endorse the outcome of the mediation once it has been reached. This is particularly the case with family disputes.
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