Do Both Parties Meet in Mediation?Nick Richards FDRP LL.B MBA GDLP DMgmt MQLS
Communication between parties is a key factor in the resolution of disputes in mediation. however, there can be circumstances where parties are kept separate.
As a matter of process, the initial formal consultation will always be conducted individually. however, the balance of the process may vary depending on how the mediator decides to conduct the mediation conference.
In-person mediation conferences
When a mediation conference is being conducted in person, the parties will generally be in the same room with the mediator. The mediator will also need a separate room in which they may decide to conduct individual sessions with each party when and where necessary to assist the parties in the mediation.
Video conference mediations
Mediation sessions conducted remotely by platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype, etc are conducted the same manner as an in-person mediation, however, they may be run remotely for a number of reasons such as:
- cost savings to the parties.
- differing locations of each party.
- safety concerns by the mediator or one party.
- assistive with visual functions (electronic whiteboards).
Mediations conducted by telephone are used for similar reasons as to a video conference mediation. However, it also provides an additional level of safety for the parties and an added layer of comfort for the attendees. Teleconferences have less technical issues that video conferencing and remain a very successful platform for mediation.
Where the parties cannot or will not communicate to one another directly, a shuttle mediation will be utilised. This is where the parties are in separate actual or virtual rooms and the mediator communicates between them passing one parties communication onto the other. This platform is seldom used for parties other than those that have or are at risk of domestic violence or both parties have requested this method.
Sessional planning is part of the process for the mediator to utilise based on information obtained from the formal consultation. Whilst the mediator may take requests into consideration, a mediator will develop a session based on their best practice when taking the dynamics of the parties and the dispute into consideration.
NOTICE: The above is not legal advice and it is recommended that you obtain tailored legal advice related to your own personal circumstances from an Australian legal practitioner.