On the Common Ground Blog
Caucus-only mediation has become increasingly popular in many mediations for business, insurance, even more personal situations such as estate and workplace disputes. Recent research shows that the caucus-only mediation approach has negative consequences. As an experienced mediator, that research conclusion was not a surprise to me.
What is Mediation?
Mediation is a process provided by a neutral third party to assist two or more parties to resolve their dispute.
Parties to a mediation meet privately with the mediator to resolve their dispute on their own terms, rather than a judge or arbitrator making a decision after hearing evidence.
How Can Mediation Help?
If you are undergoing disputes or conflicts, mediation may be the answer.
Mediation can be used whether or not the parties have already started another process such as a court action.
The Benefits of Mediation
Usually mediation saves you money compared to going to court. Mediation is usually a faster process for resolving conflict than court action. You participate in the resolution of your dispute. Your relationship with the other party is preserved, for example as customer, supplier, business associate, parent or spouse. You can keep the situation private.
The Mediation Process
The mediator will help you to resolve your problem so that you are the decision-maker.
The role of the mediator includes:
- Reducing the obstacles to communication
- Maximizing the exploration of alternatives
- Addressing the needs of those involved or affected
The mediator assists the parties in a conflict resolution process which focuses on the needs and interests of the participants, fairness, privacy, self-determination and the best interests of both parties.*
A mediator tries to ensure that the participants reach agreement freely, voluntarily, without undue influence, and on the basis of informed consent.*
* From the definition of "mediation" Ontario Association For Family Mediation, 1997
Where there are legal disputes, parties to mediation are strongly advised to obtain independent legal counsel, preferably before mediation commences and in any event before a final agreement is reached. Mediators do not provide legal advice or professional opinions but may provide general information for the parties.*