What is mediation?
This section covers:
What is mediation?
Mediation is an informal way of solving a problem. At mediation, the people involved in a dispute come together with the help of a neutral person called a 'mediator' to try and settle the dispute. The mediator helps people understand the problem, talk to each other and come up with solutions. A mediator will not take sides and cannot give you legal advice.
Mediation is one type of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). ADR is a term for any process for resolving disputes with the help of an independent person without having a court hearing. One other sort of ADR is conciliation. Conciliation is similar to mediation, but a conciliator may suggest solutions to your problem and a mediator generally will not.
The material in this topic will help you prepare for conciliation and other sorts of ADR as well as mediation.
What does a mediator do?
The mediator's job is to help both parties tell their side of the story. The mediator will also help the parties to:
- work out what issues are important to them and why
- find areas of agreement and common ground
- work out how an agreement can be reached.
The mediator will not:
- tell you what agreement you should make
- make a decision for you
- decide who is right or wrong
- give you legal advice.
There can be differences in the way mediation is run. The best way to find out what will happen in your mediation is to talk to the mediator or the organisation providing the mediation. For more information on the different mediation services, see
How to arrange mediation.
Where does mediation happen?
Mediation can happen:
- face to face, usually at a venue organised by the mediation provider (for example, their offices)
- with each side in a separate room and the mediator going between them (this is sometimes called 'shuttle mediation')
- over a telephone conference call.
You should talk to your mediation provider about how mediation will be run in your case. If you have a particular preference for how the mediation should take place (for example you would prefer a face to face meeting), you should tell your mediation provider as they may be able to take your preference into account.
When does mediation happen?
Mediation can happen at any time, including:
- after a court case is started
- during a court case
- after a decision is made in a court case (for example, because a party is going to appeal a court decision).
Some courts and tribunals ask you to try mediation as a first step for resolving complaints and disputes.
If a court case has already started and you come to an agreement through mediation, you may be able to ask the court to record your agreement in the court's orders. Court orders are often easier to enforce than ordinary agreements, especially if your agreement is an informal one.
Mediation may also help where a court has made a decision, but there are still problems between the parties. This might be because:
- one of the parties is considering an appeal
- one or both parties have not complied with the court decision
- new issues have come up.
If you are trying to decide whether or not mediation can help you, see
Why try mediation?
How much does mediation cost?
Many types of mediation, for example mediation at Community Justice Centres, are free. If you are using a private mediator, the private mediator will charge you a fee.
You should ask your mediation provider what fees (if any) apply in your case.