Frequently Asked Questions

What is mediation?
Is mediation confidential?
How long does a case take?
Who are the mediators?
What does the mediator do?
Can the mediator provide advice?
Is participating in mediation a sign of weakness?
What happens if there is no agreement?
When is the best time to mediate?
Can people leave at any time?
Does the mediator decide what happens in the mediation?
What are the risks of mediation?
Why should I consider referring someone to mediation?
Does there have to be a face-to-face meeting with the other person?
When can mediation help?
How do I refer a case?

 

What is mediation?

Mediation is a safe place where people in conflict can come together to hold a difficult conversation.

It is simply working towards getting the people involved in the conflict to meet each other, and mediators.  The mediators help the parties to get the issues out in the open and help the parties consider how they might change things going forward.

In the vast majority of cases where parties agree to meet each other with the mediators, important steps towards resolving the conflict are made.

Mediators help people to talk about the issues they face and give them the opportunity to find a shared solution they are both happy with. Mediation provides a space where people can think about what they want for the future, rather than about what has happened in the past.

It is much better to think about involving mediators early on, as mediation can help to avoid stress, worry, fears and anxiety by helping the parties bridge the gap between each other and sort out the conflict.

Is mediation confidential?

Yes. Mediation is confidential and without prejudice so nothing said or done in mediation can be referred to elsewhere. Mediation is also voluntary and people are given the choice whether they want to try mediation as a way of resolving their dispute.

How long does a case take?

For all mediation cases we hope to arrange the first meeting within 3 weeks of the case being referred to us. For commercial this might be slightly shorter, subject to the parties agreeing on the mediator and venue availability.

For family, I-G and community mediations this depends on the availability of parties to attend appointments and on the number of sessions needed. Cases can take anything from three weeks to three months. We work with the availability of the parties and mediators. We aim to organise the first meeting within 2 weeks of a case being referred and the needs of the parties.

 

Who are the mediators?

On the commercial side we only have one mediator, on the rest we always allocate two mediators per case. Mediators are independent and neutral people who facilitate the mediation process. All of our mediators are local, trained and supervised volunteers who give their time to their community.

What does the mediator do?

The mediator offers the parties a neutral and balanced opportunity to come together and talk about the issues at hand. They do not give any opinions or make any judgments. They will not tell the parties what to do, but they will help the parties find solutions that they are both happy with.

Can the mediator provide advice?

No. The mediator’s role is not to provide advice or guidance. Instead they will help people to talk, listen and think through solutions for the issues at hand.

Is participating in mediation a sign of weakness?

No. Offering mediation can be a sign of strength, showing that people are prepared to come together and talk about the difficult issues in a safe and controlled environment.

What happens if there is no agreement?

Mediation is an important time to reflect, take a step back, and move forward. Even without an agreement people often find mediation takes some of the stress out of the situation.

When is the best time to mediate?

The sooner, the better, usually people who have been to mediation say they wish they had come earlier.

Can people leave at any time?

Yes, but most mediators will speak to the partie(s) for a few minutes beforehand to see if they might be willing to remain in the process.

Does the mediator decide what happens in the mediation?

No. The parties do. The Mediator is there to help them reach a settlement and to ensure that the mediation is a safe environment where the parties are able to speak freely and respectfully as well as to be listened to and respected.

What are the risks of mediation?

Mediation cannot prove someone right or wrong and it is not legally enforceable. Because mediation is voluntary, nobody can make the other person attend or tell them what to do.

Why should I consider referring someone to mediation?

Mediation often produces very creative solutions to problems. A complaint about noise levels might involve sharing information about work patterns, discussing hours where quiet is needed and then making an agreement that takes this into account.

Mediation is an empowering process which gives the responsibility back to the people involved. Parties are involved in sorting out a solution that they think will work for them and they themselves are responsible for ensuring that their side of the agreement is kept.

Mediation also prevents future conflict from taking place, because it encourages people to look to the future as well as the present. Mediators will try to help individuals to learn how to talk and listen to each other and communicate better. This means that when problems arise in the future, they may be able to work together on sorting out their own solution to the issues.

Does there have to be a face-to-face meeting with the other person?

Sometimes people do not feel able to meet together with the other party in the same room. In this case, the mediators can arrange a ‘shuttle’ mediation. This involves the mediators going back and forth between the parties, who are in separate rooms. The mediator will pass on messages, exchange information and settlement offers, and try to negotiate a solution without the parties actually sitting in the same room together.

Shuttle mediation is usually a last resort because, without tone, body language and eye contact, communication can be more difficult it can be more difficult to understand where the other person is coming from, which can make moving forward more challenging.

When can mediation help?

Mediation can help with a wide range of issues. In nearly all cases, mediation can make things better.

The types of disputes dealt with by WMS generally include:

  • neighbour disputes involving noise, children, harassment, boundaries, parking, pets, unsocial activities and other complaints
  • parties in dispute over a contract such as a building contract or an employment contract (although our commercial mediation team have an enormous breadth of experience from MOD matters, NHS disputes, to international reconciliation)
  • parents in dispute over childcare arrangements/ways of communicating
  • issues between parents and children i.e. trust/responsibilities/communication
  • disputes that involve issues affecting groups of residents
  • school fees disputes

At WMS, mediation is unlikely to be suitable:

  • if physical violence, serious threats of violence, alcohol or drugs are involved
  • if the case requires a court ruling or court enforcement of the final outcome
  • if either party has severe health problems or high level mental health issues which means that they are unable to negotiate

How do I refer a case?

We will help you work out whether mediation can help your situation. If we are not able to help, we can give you details of other organisations who might be able to.