Mediation, as a form of alternative dispute resolution, is a popular way of resolving disputes between two or more parties that has over time taken a central place in our society. Typically, a third party - the mediator - assists the parties to negotiate a settlement. Disputants may mediate disputes in a variety of domains, such as commercial, legal, diplomatic, workplace, community and family matters.
More specifically, mediation has a structure, timetable and dynamics that "ordinary" negotiation lacks. The process is private and confidential. The mediator acts as a neutral third party and facilitates rather than directs the process, helping all parties to reach a satisfactory agreement, whilst enabling all parties to ensure that they leave a healthy relationship intact.
Some of the benefits of mediation include:
• Cost—The mediation process generally takes much less time than moving a case through standard legal channels. Taking less time means expending less money on hourly fees and costs.
• Confidentiality—While court hearings are public, mediation remains strictly confidential. No one but the parties to the dispute and the mediator(s) know what happened.
• Control—Mediation increases the control the parties have over the resolution. Often, a judge or jury cannot legally provide solutions that emerge in mediation. Thus, mediation is more likely to produce a result that is mutually agreeable for the parties.
• Compliance—Because the result is attained by the parties working together and is mutually agreeable, compliance with the mediated agreement is usually high. This further reduces costs, because the parties do not have to employ an attorney to force compliance with the agreement.
• Mutuality—Parties to a mediation are typically ready to work mutually toward a resolution. The parties thus are more amenable to understanding the other party's side and work on underlying issues to the dispute. This has the added benefit of often preserving the relationship the parties had before the dispute.
• Support—Mediators are trained in working with difficult situations. The mediator helps the parties think "outside of the box" for possible solutions to the dispute, broadening the range of possible solutions