In situations that are highly charged with emotion, such as the breakup of a relationship or negotiating a sensitive business deal, it’s easy for tension to cloud the interactions between the different people involved, and for conflict to arise. If this conflict is not solved or handled in a constructive manner, interactions can become destructive and lead to an unsatisfactory conclusion for all involved.
In the past, the only way to resolve conflict conclusively was in court. This was both time-consuming and costly. Mediation developed as an alternative method to resolve disputes, in a more efficient way and with less expense. Additionally, as mediation works through negotiation, instead of confrontation, the solutions that arise from this process are often more lasting that those reached through court involvement.
Mediation has a number of characteristics that mark it as a specific form of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).
- Its aim is to solve disputes
- A mediator works with the different parties to solve the issue at hand and reach a settlement
- The mediation process is collaborative
- People enter a mediation process voluntarily
- The process is transformative and empowering
- The environment in which mediation takes place is respectful
- Mediation is voluntary and not forced
- Everything that takes place in mediation is consultative and no decisions are reached without each person’s input
All of the points listed above are overwhelmingly positive, but that doesn’t mean that mediation is an easy process to embark on. Both parties need to commit to keeping an open mind, focus on the advantages of going through a mediation process rather than a costly court battle, and be eager to resolve the situation. When people go into mediation with this approach, we usually see results in a short space of time (though there is no set time that can be guaranteed with mediation), and a large reduction in the stress and strain that accompanies a complex situation.
Mediation doesn’t do the work of counsellors or therapists. Instead, a mediator, highly trained in a range of conflict resolution techniques, will take the different parties through a process that helps them see the dispute from another perspective and help them find solutions.
When does mediation work?
People often have the idea that mediation can work when there are just two people involved in a dispute. This isn’t the case.
As long as everyone involved in a dispute is willing to try mediation, this alternative form of dispute resolution can be used in a situation where two people, several people or even many people have differences that they cannot solve on their own.
Likewise, the dispute itself may be over a single issue that people can’t agree on, or it may be a dispute with many complex and multifaceted issues.
Mediation is often discussed in relation to relationship breakups, or in a family law setting, but mediation also features prominently in commercial disputes.
We have a number of mediation experts at Augustus Cullen Law. Their goal is to work with you, if you have a dispute that cannot be solved, to find a resolution that works for you and the other person or people involved in the conflict.
Gus Cullen, Partner and Head of General Litigation at Augustus Cullen Law, says, “Mediation is particularly useful where there is value to reengaging in the relationship between the parties in dispute; for example, (ensuring) ongoing co- parenting in a family law dispute or making good a business wrong in a commercial dispute in a mutually beneficial mechanism to continue trading rather than ceasing to trade.”
09 November 2016