Both parties are visited separately to talk about the facts and issues that are concerning them and how they would like them to be resolved. Information shared during the visits is private and confidential (with the exception of disclosure of serious abuse) unless otherwise agreed.
All parties have to agree to take part. Anyone can withdraw at any stage if they want to.
If both parties agree to a joint meeting, some basic rules, such as listening without interrupting, and not using offensive remarks or gestures, are agreed. Each person will then have some uninterrupted time to talk about the problem as it affects them.
The mediators ensure that everyone understands what each person has said, and then allow full and equal discussion. Very often this leads to an agreement, which is usually written down and signed by all present. This is not a legally binding document, but acts as a reminder to what was agreed at the meeting. Mediated agreements are not binding in law and each party has a right to seek independent legal advice.
Should the parties not wish to attend a joint meeting, or the mediators think it inappropriate, ‘shuttle’ mediation will take place. This involves mediators working in the same way, but without the parties in the same room as each other.
Mediation is not a legal process and any agreements are not binding in law. Parties have a right to seek legal advice, and mediation does not prevent parties from initiating other procedures. All mediation proceedings are conducted on a “without prejudice” basis – what is said during mediation proceedings will be confidential.