The mediation process is flexible and a trained mediator will speak with both parties beforehand and decide how best to approach the day to ensure the best possible chance of the parties reaching a settlement.
The parties sign a Mediation Agreement setting out the rules for the mediation including confidentiality and terms of business for the mediator. The mediator will ask the parties to provide a summary of the dispute and the issues that are to be resolved.
Most mediations are held at a location where there are facilities that can provide each individual party with their own room and a central meeting room for the mediator. This ensures that everyone attending has their own private space and breakout area as well as a meeting room that can accommodate all the parties and the mediator.
Initially the mediator will meet privately with the parties and then may bring them together for a joint session during which each person will have the opportunity to speak and set out their position and opinion of the matter. This stage is called the “Opening Session”. The mediator may choose to facilitate discussions after the Opening Session or may invite the parties to return to their respective rooms.
A mediator will then meet, in private sessions, with the individual parties and will assist them to explore and negotiate their way to a resolution. This may include reconvening a meeting between the parties and, if present, their lawyers, experts or other combination depending upon what may be beneficial to settling the differences.
Finally when a settlement is reached, the mediation concludes with the parties agreeing and signing a binding Settlement Agreement. It is only when a Settlement Agreement is signed by all parties that the dispute is settled.