Mediation is a private, informal process in which a neutral third party, the mediator, helps those who are in dispute to reach agreement. A mediation agreement is made in good faith and is generally not legally binding (although it can be in civil/commercial disputes). Mediation is totally confidential, relatively quick, free (for our community services), and any decisions made are agreed by all parties. Mediation is an alternative to the legal process.
No, mediation is a confidential process and whatever is said remains between the mediation service and the people taking part unless everyone agrees otherwise.
Mediation is a voluntary process, each person involved decides how far he or she wants it to go and no one can be made to take part if they do not want to. Many people feel nervous about meeting the other person, but if they talk to the mediators about their fears and then feel they are prepared to give it a go, they are often surprised at how well it turns out. Around 80% of people who come together in a joint meeting succeed in reaching an agreement with each other.
In community mediations the answer is no. A mediation agreement is a statement of good intent, describing how people will modify their behaviour in order to improve the situation in the future. Mediation agreements work because they are arrived at after discussion and are freely entered into by the people concerned. The mediators check carefully to make sure that the agreements are practical, workable, and really do address the problems which brought everyone into mediation in the first place. In workplace mediations, if permission is given agreements may be referred to the employer or personnel manager for ratification and application to the work situation. In civil/commercial mediations the agreement can be drafted to be legally binding.
Even if no agreement is reached, the situation may improve as those involved will have spoken to the mediators and the other party, thought about changes they could make and heard the other’s point of view. If an agreement was reached, but later this seems not to be holding, then we can arrange a second meeting, if both parties want this to happen. In the second meeting we would consider what worked and what didn’t, and whether the original agreement should be modified in some way.
You do not require evidence for mediation, as the mediators do not attempt to establish who has done what, or who is right or wrong. After exploring ‘the past’ the focus turns to ‘the future’, helping you to explore what you would like to happen, how you would like things to be, and what can be done to achieve this.
For conflicts involving neighbours, we will arrange for mediators to visit each of you at home at a time to suit you, and then find a time for the joint meeting which is convenient for everyone attending. For conflicts in the workplace or in other situations where a home visit is not appropriate, we will again arrange to meet each party at a time convenient to them. Our mediators work both in the day time and evenings so we are very flexible about timing.
The mediators do not take sides or make judgments about who is right or wrong. Mediation is not about assigning blame for the past but about agreeing on a way to overcome current problems and improve the relationship between the people concerned for the future.
Some disputes are not appropriate for mediation e.g. where there is violence or serious harassment, or where one or both parties are not willing or competent to negotiate. Mediation is also inappropriate when one party is looking for enforcement action to be taken against the other party or for judgement from a court or other authority.
We have ‘Ground Rules’ for our joint meetings, one of which is ‘Respect one another and ‘use respectful language and behaviour’. The mediators go through these rules at the beginning of the meeting and our mediators are trained to keep the process under control and to intervene if necessary, very rarely they may have to end the meeting if someone’s behaviour is excessive.
Our community mediation services are FREE as we receive funding from organisations such as Aylesbury Vale District Council, Chiltern District Council, South Bucks District Council Red Kite and Vale of Aylesbury Housing Associations and Thames Valley Police. There is a charge for other types of dispute such as High Hedge, Workplace and Civil cases. Please contact us for further details.