Whilst every mediation is different there is a general structure that draws the process together. The following tips align with this structure and are based upon a commercial dispute.
1. Read the Mediator’s briefing notes
Most mediators will speak to those attending the mediation beforehand and provide an outline of the day as well as details of any papers that would be helpful to provide beforehand. There is usually a deadline for providing any documents and it helps to ensure that the Mediator has all the information requested.
2. Check everything is ready at the mediation venue, you have directions and know where to park
Prepare and don’t leave anything to chance on the day. Far better arrive early and ready for the mediation that feel rushed and running late.
If using a pay and display car park, it can be helpful to pay for the full day rather than have to rush back to put in more money or worse, forget and end up with a parking ticket. If there are closing times for the car park, take a photo on the phone and add a reminder before leaving the car park so you can retrieve your car at the end of the day. There is nothing worse than being thrilled to have settled your dispute only to find that the lateness of the hour means your car is locked in a carpark!
3. Make arrangements for business and family commitments to have support throughout the day without you
This is your time. You may have been generally distracted by the dispute and some may have had sleepless nights. If you are to have the best chance of finding a solution, worrying and thinking about others during this dedicated time will not help. It is your time to focus. Committing to and investing time on the day of the mediation could be key to resolving the dispute that has the potential to impact upon time and money in the future if it continues. It may therefore be making arrangements for children to be collected by another family member or friend or for cover in your business – reducing your commitments on the day to enable your focus and concentrate on the dispute can make all the difference.
4. Prepare a Case Summary and Opening Statement
You may be asked to make an opening statement in a joint meeting. If so, this can be read out and therefore prepared beforehand if you wish. It can provide the opportunity to say what is important to you and also ensure that you do not miss anything out or showing your determination and resolution in the dispute. Speaking it out can be far more effective that someone else reading it on paper.
5. Risk Assess your case and have a negotiation plan
There are always risks in every case. If you cannot see the risks in the evidence, you will inevitably be facing a loss of management time and costs – both of which are worth avoiding. Reviewing your best and worst case scenarios as well as understand what your best and worst alternatives to a negotiated outcome are will provide you with insight and information as to what you want to achieve at mediation and your parameters for settlement. Preparing these beforehand will enable you to be clear upon the day of your goals and objectives and also balance any new information that comes to light in the mediation with the background information you already know.
6. Ensure you have or have access to all the information you need
It is important to take along to the mediation all the information or documents that you believe will assist you present your position. These may or may not be used however having them available ensures that you are ready should anything be needed.
Occasionally the unexpected happens at mediations and at those time it can be helpful to have someone at the end of the phone to access any additional information or expertise. If possible, have that person on call should you need them. It could be an accountant if there are financial matters to discuss or even an expert that can provide opinion or comment on information you have received so you can make an informed decision. Having at least a couple of telephone numbers for any such contact as back up ensures that your support network and team can produce any further details required enabling you to concentrate on matters in hand and access advice should you need it…..and bring your phone charger with you.
7. Take refreshments
Make sure that arrangements have been made for you to have refreshments available. This may have been pre-ordered or take along your own. During a mediation keeping up your energy levels and sharp concentration will help you and that means making sure you have everything you need. There can be much waiting around and whilst you are likely to have tasks to consider during these times, taking along something to read or do as well could be helpful.
8. Organise Arrival times
If you really do not wish to meet the other party to the dispute as arriving at your venue and being directed to your private meeting space, speak with the mediator to agree different arrival times.