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Mediation FAQs

Although each type of mediation is different, these mediation FAQs will help you understand what mediation involves. Please contact us if you want more detailed information relating specifically to your type of case. 

Mediation is a highly effective form of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) which allows people to resolve disputes out of court at any time, with or without lawyers, and with the assistance of neutral, trained mediators, who help the participants communicate in a safe space, and if they are willing, to reach an agreement. The process is voluntary and completely confidential. In the vast majority of cases where people agree to meet each other with the mediators, important steps towards resolving the conflict are made. In 2023, 95% of cases we mediated reached a full or partial resolution.

The mediators are trained to work with people when communication (and often trust) has broken down. They use specialised negotiation techniques to encourage an open and constructive discussion, and support the participants into reaching agreement if possible. Ground rules are agreed to ensure that the mediation session takes place in a safe environment where all participants are able to speak freely and be listened to respectfully.

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 Wandsworth Mediation Service generally include:

  • Neighbour disputes involving noise, children, harassment, boundaries, parking, pets, unsocial activities and other complaints;
  • Arguments between people sharing accommodation;
  • Issues between parents and children (over 15) including trust, responsibilities, communication;
  • Disagreement between adult children and ageing parents over care;
  • Disputes that involve issues affecting groups of residents;
  • Parties in dispute over a contract, such as a lease, building contract or an employment contract;
  • Disputes over money (from £1000 to multi-million claims);
  • Other commercial disputes involving Bitcoin, NHS disputes, the MoD, international reconciliation, professional negligence, school fees disputes;
  • Estate, wills disputes;
  • Parents in dispute over childcare arrangements/ways of communicating;

At Wandsworth Mediation Service, 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 moderate to severe mental health issues which means that the process may be inappropriate and potentially harmful to them or the other person. 

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

Cases can take anything from three weeks to three months. This depends on the availability of parties to attend appointments and on the number of sessions needed.

  • 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.
  • Mediators will 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.
  • 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 prevents future conflict from taking place, because it encourages people to look to the future as well as the present. 

The sooner, the better. It is best to think about involving mediators early on, as mediation can help to avoid stress, worry, fears and anxiety by helping the participants bridge the gap between each other and sort out their conflict. Usually, people who have been to mediation say they wish they had come earlier.

We usually conduct mediation meetings at our offices near Clapham Junction or at clients’ preferred venue. We also offer remote mediation via telephone or video calls (usually on Zoom).

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. Shuttle mediation 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 help the parties reach a solution without being in the same room together. Shuttle mediation is usually a last resort because, without tone, body language and eye contact, it can be more difficult to understand where the other person is coming from, which can make moving forward and communicating directly more challenging.

A mediation session usually lasts between 1.5 hours and 1 day, depending on the type of mediation and the complexity of the case. Some issues need more than a single meeting to be sorted. The mediator will give a clearer timescale at the initial appointment.

Yes. Mediation is confidential and without prejudice. Nothing said or done in the mediation can be referred to in court, reported to a housing officer or even discussed with anyone else not in the session unless both parties agree.

One of the reasons why mediation is so effective is because it is completely voluntary. There are no consequences for clients who decline mediation at the start or choose to withdraw part way through. The mediators will speak to the participant(s) for a few minutes beforehand to see if they might be willing to remain in the process.

No. The mediators cannot offer legal advice or represent either party involved in a dispute, as they must remain impartial. Instead, they will help people to talk, listen and think through solutions for the issues at hand.

Lawyers can be present, but it is not required. It is up to the participants how involved they will be. Sometimes in commercial or workplace mediations, parties have their solicitors on standby over the phone in order to reduce attendance costs.

No. The participants do. The mediators have no power to decide the mediation case outcome or impose any solutions on the participants.  In fact, they will not even suggest solutions, leaving it completely to the parties to decide what happens.  The mediators assist the parties in reaching their own resolution, and check that any agreement made is the one all participants are happy with.

When parties agree on a resolution, they can put this in writing and sign it. Typically, a mediation settlement isn’t legally binding, and relies on the good faith of both parties to follow through. However, this agreement can be made legally binding if it’s formalised into a Consent Order by a solicitor and approved by a court.

For commercial mediations, once the settlement agreement is set out in writing and signed by all involved parties, it becomes legally binding.

In our experience, the majority of cases settle through mediation. If not, parties can still negotiate directly or via the solicitors. If there is an ongoing court case, it can be re-activated. We find it that even without an agreement, people often find mediation takes some of the stress out of the situation.

Please contact our office team and 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.