Mediation is a problem-solving procedure and its essence is about finding a solution that satisfies everyone. This is often called the win/win approach. It differs from the legal process which is often said to produce a win/lose outcome. The process of mediation treats both parties equally. Both parties must therefore have a desire to resolve the problem in hand.
Mediators are not responsible for taking sides, making judgements or giving guidance. Mediation is, therefore, different from processes like advocacy, counselling, arbitration, and advice giving. The mediator is responsible solely for developing interaction (and building consensus) between the parties.
Mediations can be performed face to face or via a go-between (shuttle mediation). At the end of the process the parties very often agree on a settlement which is not legally binding but can be made so by the parties concerned if they so wish.
Mediation has a long history in many cultures, from large industrial societies like China and Japan to small-scale communities in the Pacific Islands. Influences from North America, Australia and New Zealand where mediation is well established contributed to the development of new ideas about mediation in the UK. This and the frustration with the expensive British legal system have seen a growing interest in the mediation process and an increased demand for mediation in this country.
Mediation can be used in a number of different circumstances. The most public face of mediation has been the mediation used internationally to help countries and political systems reconcile their differences. Family mediation has also become a popular method of resolving disputes between divorcing couples with children. Some organisations specialise in commercial mediation which enables private or commercial organisations to settle disputes out of court.
Information by: Mediation UK