Mediation is the most frequently used form of ADR in the United Kingdom. Its effectiveness depends on the skills of the mediator chosen and the tactical awareness and flexibility of the parties and their legal teams. The courts now usually expect the parties to have considered and/or conducted a mediation before proceeding to trial and will penalise parties who do not do this.
As well as providing excellent mediation advocacy and advisory services for clients attending or preparing for mediations, we also have a number of accredited mediators (see below) who are available to conduct mediations in their specialist areas of practice. They are also happy to provide combined mediation/evaluations in which, as well as facilitating progress towards a mutually agreed settlement, the mediator/evaluator gives his or her specialist view of the strengths and weaknesses of a particular point, or the case as a whole.
If you are interested in instructing one of our members on an expert determination, please contact the Practice Management Team.
- Our mediators
- Advantages of mediation over court proceedings
Mediations can be arranged at any time and usually very quickly. Settlement through mediation has a high success rate – about 75 – 80%. Such settlements can avoid significant costs for all parties, are confidential and enable the parties to decide the terms rather than a judge. Mediation settlements must be ratified by the court (if there are proceedings) but can include solutions that a court could not impose.
- Arranging a mediation
Once the parties have agreed to mediate, they need to identify and agree on a mediator as well as the date and location of the mediation. Gatehouse Chambers is able to recommend mediators and you can also hire our rooms for mediations. All our rooms have natural light and air conditioning and we provide catering and Wi-Fi. Normally mediations last a day; some will last well into the night. Very occasionally it is necessary to book more than one day for a mediation.
- Mediation process
All mediations are conducted on a “without prejudice” basis unless and until a settlement agreement is signed. All conversations with the mediator are also conducted on a confidential basis.
The mediation process is up to the parties to agree but usually the format is:
- preparation of mediation statements setting out each parties’ case. These are usually exchanged with the other side as well as sent to the mediator.
- agreement between the parties of a small bundle of key documents for the mediator.
- signature of a mediation agreement with the mediator. This sets out the basis on which the mediator will operate.
- a plenary session is usually called by the mediator at the beginning of the mediation so that the parties can tell each face to face what they consider the key issues are. The mediator may also call plenary sessions later in the day if they consider it appropriate.
- the rest of the day is spent with each party in a separate room with the mediator shuttling between them. This gives the parties the chance to explore issues with the mediator and gives the mediator the opportunity to consider possible routes to settlement. The mediator may suggest individual meetings of different personnel through the day (eg experts, lawyers).
- if the negotiations are successful, then a settlement agreement is drawn up. It is therefore essential that those present have the authority to sign such an agreement and bring the dispute to an end.