What is Mediation?

‘Mediation’ is a voluntary and confidential dispute resolution process in which a neutral third party, known as a mediator, facilitates communication and negotiation between two or more parties who are involved in a conflict or dispute. The goal of mediation is to help the parties reach a mutually acceptable and often legally binding agreement to resolve their dispute without going to court. It is a popular method for resolving a wide range of conflicts, including family disputes, workplace issues, business disputes, and community conflicts.


Key characteristics and principles of mediation include:

Neutrality: The mediator remains impartial and does not take sides in the dispute. Their role is to facilitate communication, ensure a fair process, and help the parties find common ground.

Voluntary Participation: Mediation is a voluntary process, and all parties must agree to participate. No one can be forced into mediation against their will.

Confidentiality: Mediation discussions are confidential. Participants are generally encouraged to speak openly and honestly during the process, knowing that what is said during mediation is not typically admissible in court.

Informal Setting: Mediation often takes place in a less formal setting than a courtroom, which can make it less intimidating for the parties involved.

Self-Determination: The parties have control over the outcome of the mediation. They are the ones who make decisions and reach agreements, with the mediator’s assistance.

Problem-Solving: Mediation focuses on identifying and addressing the underlying issues and interests of the parties rather than assigning blame. It is oriented toward finding practical solutions.


The mediation process typically involves the following steps:

  1. Opening Statements: The mediator begins by explaining the mediation process, emphasising confidentiality and the role of neutrality. Each party may also have an opportunity to make an opening statement, outlining their perspective on the issue.
  2. Information Gathering: The mediator helps the parties identify the key issues and interests at stake. This often involves asking questions and clarifying the facts.
  3. Negotiation and Problem-Solving: The parties engage in facilitated discussions and negotiations, guided by the mediator. The mediator may use various techniques to encourage productive communication and compromise.
  4. Agreement: If the parties reach a mutually acceptable agreement, it is typically put in writing. This agreement can be legally binding, depending on the nature of the dispute and applicable laws.
  5. Closure: The mediator helps the parties summarize the agreed-upon terms and discuss next steps. The mediation process concludes, and the parties may choose to pursue legal enforcement of the agreement if necessary.

Mediation is often considered an effective alternative to litigation because it can be quicker, less expensive, and less adversarial. It allows parties to retain control over the outcome and maintain or repair relationships. Mediation can be especially beneficial in situations where ongoing relationships, such as in family disputes or workplace conflicts, need to be preserved.