Mediation encourages parties who have – or who anticipate having – differences or a dispute to sit down and talk, with a view to finding a mutually acceptable way forward.
A mediator is a skilled independent facilitator who works impartially with all concerned. Discussions take place in a confidential setting, the purpose of which is to help the parties to find a constructive solution that meets their real interests and needs. It enables people to engage in effective negotiations and to seek to understand, narrow and, wherever possible, resolve the differences or dispute between them.
The mediator does not impose a solution – the parties themselves decide the outcome, the terms of any agreement between them and how to take matters forward. Nothing which is said or done is binding on anyone unless and until they agree that it should be.
It can be used at any time, whether or not court or other formal proceedings are in progress. Often, mediation is used in circumstances where litigation is not even in prospect and where no lawyers are involved.