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Mediation is a form of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and those who practice it, mediators, represent a neutral, objective, third party, hired by two or more parties in order to resolve disputes and come to a balanced conclusion. Mediation differs from other forms of dispute resolution because of its relative simplicity and openness towards progressive discussions.
Mediators do not necessarily need to be trained in the law; the main aim of mediators is to stop cases going to court by settlement if possible, as going to court is often expensive, time-consuming and potentially messy (many companies and individuals do not want the sort of press attention that a court case could attract). Mediators may also be called upon at any time during court proceedings if both parties reach a stalemate. The process of mediation can be applied in legal, commercial or personal setting.
In some special cases, solicitors can appear as mediators if they have the consent of both parties and are proven to be unbiased in their approach to resolution.
Keeping communication channels open and encouraging positive discussion between parties who cannot agree on disputed matters is vital. It is important to keep the disputes progressive to enable swift, just and amiable conclusions. Mediators also need to ensure that both parties want to agree on resolution before commencing debate.
There are leading companies in mediation; however most mediators make their money by being hired on a case-by-case basis. Understandably this means that the greater experience and success rate a mediator has, the more likely they are to be hired. As the mediation profession grows, many law firms now incorporate mediation divisions, the services of which can be offered to clients in cases which can feasibly be resolved out of court.