Mediation is a passion for many.

Apr 26, 2024 | News

Mediation is in the spotlight, from the conflict in Gaza to the Post Office scandal and its imminent integration into civil justice. What is mediation? What is it? And how can it help you. A mediator explains it.

The word “mediation” is often used in the media, from the wars in Gaza and the Post Office scandal, to its imminent integration into the civil justice systems.

Mediation is a structured, confidential process that brings people together in conflict and allows them to have constructive conversations. Mediation gives the power to the parties involved, unlike going to court where a judge decides who wins and loses. They are the ones who, with the mediator’s help, come up the solution. They are the ones who come up with any resolutions and because they do, these are more likely to be realistic, manageable, and in everyone’s interest.

The mediator is neutral and independent. They are not taking sides or trying to decide who is right or wrong; they’re on everyone’s side. Mediation is a quicker and cheaper alternative to going through the legal system. The outcome can also be kept confidential rather than being discussed openly in court or splashed all over the media.

As a mediator, I have the privilege of hearing deeply personal stories that range from heartbreaking to jaw dropping. They can be ordinary or extraordinary. The golden rule of confidentiality prevents me from revealing details about cases. In the mediation room, I have seen tears and flaming arguments, I have averted punch-ups, I have avoided walk-outs and I was moved to see participants exchange hugs and handshakings after reaching an accord.

Many people need to feel heard and listened to. There’s usually something deeper at play beneath the surface, and the mediator’s job is to help people dig deep and discover the real cause of the conflict. Even a seemingly straightforward case about money can have complex emotional factors at work.

Beyond hostage negotiations: Mediation’s relevance in everyday life

1. There are many types of mediation we will need at some time.

2. Mediation in the community: This could involve neighbours who have fallen out over noise, antisocial behaviour or a disagreement about boundaries. It is important to consider the impact of this type of dispute on those involved. The impact of this type of dispute can be devastating on the quality and mental health. In the last two years, the number of GPs who refer individuals to community mediation almost doubled.

As a mediator, I have the privilege of hearing deeply personal stories that range from heartbreaking to jaw dropping. From the mundane to the extraordinary.

3. Workplace mediation: The most common areas of conflict are poor communication, a breakdown in trust, clashes in working styles, and issues related to harassment or bullying. Estimates suggest that 9.7million employees in the UK experience conflict at work each year, with over one million having to take leave because of it. Conflict costs UK organisations almost PS30bn a year.

4. Civil and commercial mediation covers disputes between two or more parties, organisations or businesses regarding the provision of goods and services or commercial arrangements. CEDR, Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDDR), conducted a study that showed commercial mediation saved businesses PS3bn a yearly in wasted management time and legal fees.

5. Family mediation is the process of settling arrangements for children, finances and other matters following a separation. Mediation is a much more affordable option, especially when the average divorce cost in the UK was more than PS14,000 for 2018. Legal aid is available to those with low income, and vouchers of up to PS500 are also available to resolve child custody issues.

Giselle Green is a specialist in civil, workplace and community mediation.

The range of areas where mediation is used is expanding: intergenerational mediation, for example, involves children and parents fighting over the care and inheritance of elderly relatives; elder mediation; SEND mediation; to resolve issues relating to education, health and care plans (EHC), or an EHC need assessment; peer mediation; which aims to resolve conflict between students and pupils in schools by training them to be mediators; and pet mediation – who gets to keep a dog when couples divorce?

Many public institutions are turning to mediators, whether it is prisons that use mediation to reduce violence; police and victim support group using restorative justice in order to bring together victims of crime and offenders; and NHS trusts that employ in-house mediators for staff relations.

The success rate for mediation is impressive. According to CEDR’s latest report, over 90% commercial mediations are a success. Calm Mediation, a leading London provider for mediation services in neighbourhoods, workplaces, and educational settings, says that 85% of their mediation meetings end with an agreement.

If you have a dispute with your neighbour, had a conflict with your colleagues at work, or experienced friction within the family, you do not need to go to court. Mediation is a powerful tool that can turn a seemingly hopeless situation around for everyone involved.

Giselle is a mediator registered with the Civil Mediation Council. She specialises in civil, workplace and community mediations. She is also a volunteer with Calm Mediation and the Society of Mediators, as well as the Tower Hamlets Mediation Project.

Main Image: SDI Productions

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