Mediation is a method used when attempting to resolve a problem without court action, for problems which are not family-related. It is one of the main forms of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), which can be attempted during disputes. Generally, mediation is voluntary, and the process can be cancelled at any time.
Mediation involves the relevant parties meeting with a qualified mediator (an independent person), who evaluates the situation in order to try and find a mutually acceptable solution to their argument. It should be noted that the mediator is not the person who makes a decision, they simply guide the other parties and offer suggestions. It is not an option for criminal cases, but for other issues it can be attempted. For areas such as personal injury claims or breaches of trust, an attempt at ADR is quite a common occurrence.
There are multiple benefits to attempting mediation. Legal professionals favour attempts at mediation rather than people going straight to Court, because if they still end up in Court, it shows that the parties have been trying to reach an agreement. Some people prefer it because it provides confidentiality, unlike Court proceedings which are public. Mediation can also be much quicker than pursuing Court action, which therefore also reduces the costs involved. As well as being able to have the final say on decisions, parties can receive more support due to a mediators experience and understanding in these types of situations.
The other forms of ADR are arbitration, adjudication and conciliation, but mediation is the most common form. The costs are often split between the parties involved.