Mediation is a more affordable, timely and efficient method of dispute resolution than the traditional alternatives. Too often the costs and delays of court litigation and arbitration make disputes or differences between parties almost impossible to resolve.

For families, business partners, colleagues, friends and employers/employees the long term effects of an unresolved dispute can be disastrous. This is not only because of the financial cost but also because of the human costs of an unresolved disagreement. Mediation is an informal process in which the parties utilise the skills of a mediator to have their day and their say. It is a structured negotiation or discussion in a safe environment and the process allows parties to identify and evaluate options for the resolution of a dispute or for the discussion of a problem.

A mediator is a facilitator who attempts to open up channels of communication in the hope that relationships can be preserved and in the hope also that a greater variety of solutions can be considered. A mediator is neutral and it is his or her job to allow the parties to express themselves, to hear other parties express themselves and to allow a solution to come from the parties themselves. Parties can be supported by their legal advisors who will give valuable assistance in achieving a result for their clients.

The process is confidential so that generally anything that is discussed in mediation remains confidential. This means that communication can be free without parties needing to fear that anything they say may be brought up in later legal proceedings. Agreements that are reached are usually binding contractual agreements. Whilst a mediator will not impose a solution on the parties, he or she will assist in the generation of options for settlement. The mediator will not coerce parties to reach a decision but will keep the parties properly informed of their rights in the negotiation progress. It is not their job to give legal advice but a consideration of each party’s legal rights may be among matters that the parties need to discuss. Mediation puts control of the resolution of a dispute in the hands of those that are best equipped to find the most appropriate solution and it enables business and personal relationships to be maintained and even enhanced by encouraging co-operative problem solving.

Nikki Burley is a LEADR accredited mediator and she and the other professional staff at Burley Attwood Law are trained in representing clients in a mediation process. If you think that mediation may be useful or appropriate for you and would like to discuss it further please phone/fax/email.

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