(with a copy of an Agreement to Mediate & offer for a free Mediation Consultation)
Mediation is increasingly used to address issues and to resolve disputes. However, for many the process is still new and unknown.
The familiar questions at this point are:
- How do I begin?
- What do I need to do?
- How does it work?
Starting the process:
Depending on the nature and extent of the issue or dispute, one person can contact the other disputing person to ask that they agree to refer their dispute to a mediator. Together they can then decide to contact a specific mediator or to ask for one of several service providers or institutions to appoint a mediator to manage their dispute and conduct the mediation. (One such a mediation panel can be found at www.aim-mediation.co.za)
Alternatively, if the parties are not on speaking terms or one party prefers to contact a mediator independently of the other party, that person can contact a mediator directly, explain the need for mediation and provide the mediator with the contact details of the other party.
The mediator will then contact the disputing party to advise him/her that he/she was contacted by the first party for the purpose of inviting both of them to a mediation meeting in order to discuss and hopefully resolve their dispute.
The task of the mediator is to facilitate the discussion between the parties and to assist them to explore their different interests and concerns, their expectations, any underlying reason for the dispute and, together with the parties, explore possible solutions to resolve the issue/dispute.
Mediator takes control:
When a mediator gets a call from one or both parties, he/she will discuss and explain the process, the principles of confidentiality, that the process is without prejudice (nothing said or discussed can be used in trial), the voluntary nature of the process and the impartial role of the mediator in that regard. The mediator will then proceed to provide the parties with an Agreement to Mediate (download a copy here) in which the principles of a mediation is set out, the practical arrangements discussed or set out, and the fees of the mediator declared/agreed to. When both parties agree to the terms, they will sign the Agreement to Mediate and the mediator will then contact both parties to arrange a mutually convenient date when and place where the mediation can be held.
Although the concept is still relatively new to most, the mediation process is not difficult to understand or participate in. If conducted by a trained and accredited mediator, the process is a structured, facilitated negotiation which will enable the parties to explore and understand their real interests, concerns and expectations in regard to the issue/dispute at hand. A proper understanding of the underlying reasons for a dispute/issue and a practical understanding of the options available to them to resolve the dispute, very often leads to the dispute being resolved to the satisfaction of both parties, or at the very least reduced to a simpler, clearer issue to deal with.
Cost of Mediation:
The cost of the mediator is usually the only definite expense, is negotiable and can vary from R800 to R2000 per hour. Other costs such as for venues, catering etc are rarely incurred. If either or both disputing parties want their lawyers present, that will be an additional cost for that party/parties.
By comparison a judge is free but the cost of a High Court action and trial can quickly run into hundreds of thousands of Rand. While there are disputes that will almost certainly require litigation due to the nature of the law, the facts or the parties pertaining to the matter, most disagreements can be resolved without having to resort to the courts.
Our Offer to You:
We offer you and your disputing party an hour with us around our round table. On a without prejudice basis and at no cost to you.
What do you need to do?
Simply call us to say you want to make use of this offer or give us the contact details of the other person and we shall set up the meeting. Speak to Chris and/or MC and we’ll do the rest. (firstname.lastname@example.org / Tel: 021 424 3937)
This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)