Mediation time has to be flexible
Before you can book your mediation time and date in the Mediator’s diary, you need to decide how long the mediation meeting might take. Every dispute is unique. The fact is that there are too many “unknown unknowns” to be able accurately to assess how many hours might be needed to bring your conflict to a happy resolution. You might need two hours – or two days.
We can help. First, we need to know who you are, who is your conflict party and all about your dispute. You can give us this information at our Request to Mediate. We shall respond to what you have told us by email. It is likely that the Mediator will also telephone you personally to help you with choosing the hours you might need.
Over many years, mediation has evolved into a one-day procedure. For many years, that involved the mediator sitting down with the parties with little or no work in advance. Today, however, with the advent of technology, including email, we can all work far more efficiently by your providing information in advance. So when the mediation meeting starts, the mediator knows the background history and the Participants have a pretty good idea what will happen and feel comfortable in negotiating.
When the Mediator assesses your documents and replies to your Request to Mediate, he will tell you if he thinks your time estimate is wildly out. However, the final decision as to the number of hours you need, is for you and your conflict party.
We will now explain some of the considerations.
- Up front time spent by the Mediator
The participants and the Mediator can read and take in whatever documents you have sent to us. That means we can all be “ready to go” when the mediation meeting starts.
On average up to 35% of the of the Mediator’s time is spent on pre-meeting work, including discussions about documentation, procedure, venue and the history of the dispute. Whether the Mediator has a load of documents to work through or needs to research technical stuff, he just does it. It’s just part of our service.
An example: in a case involving land, the Mediator may have to assess not only Land Registry title documents but also reports and valuations and photographs. Of course much the same applies to technical issues in any contract. (Note: If you need access to Land Registry title deeds and plans, we can help).
It is not professionally appropriate for the mediator to discuss your case in advance of the open meeting unless you have instructed the mediator specifically to use telephone or online mediation rather than face-to-face meeting.
- What happens on the day
This is an important and exciting event which we can explain more fully here.
- Avoid overruns and adjournments
It is very important that enough time is allocated, to enable you to resolve your dispute. This is largely a psychological issue. If an adjournment is necessary, progress made tends to be lost. A new agreed date may not be close. The other participant may change their mind, want different goals, or simply be unavailable. That’s why it is important to allow more time than you think might be necessary and that is the basis for mediation management having evolved based on a full day. (Approximately 90% of full day mediation meetings conclude with a written agreement.)
We will always do our utmost to conclude a mediation as efficiently as possible. That means both the Mediator and the parties must be prepared to continue to talk as long as a settlement is on the horizon.
Nevertheless if you need a second day, the Mediator will move mountains to accommodate you at the earliest possible opportunity. The additional time will be charged at the same rate as calculated for our invoice. If you have pre-booked and paid for a second full day and it is not required, we will rebate 80% of the entire time cost for that day.
- Time to draw a memorandum of understanding (“MoU”)
In managing the mediation, the Mediator will take account of time which may be needed to tie up loose ends after broad agreement has been reached. Time will be spent in agreeing detail and usually in writing an MoU or heads of terms, so that the parties have an agreed version of the outcome. The shorter the time frame, the more difficult it will be to fit this in. See "Memorandum of Understanding" for details of what we do.
- Complications of the issues
No matter how carefully the Mediator assesses the information you have provided in your Request to Mediate, it is often the case that additional issues arise at the beginning of the mediation meeting. Sometimes, what first appear to be less important issues, turn out to be critical to 1 of the Participants and the subject of much discussion.
The Mediator will take account of this probability in discussing time issues with you before you book in our diary.
- A compact time frame for online mediation
Online mediation is most suitable for low value cases where the issues are clear. In most cases we shall be looking at four hours in all. There are advantages and disadvantages to online mediation.
The most important consideration during an online mediation as a commitment by the Participants that they will be continuously available over a short time frame. A compact time frame is most efficient because it provides continuity. Both the Mediator and the parties can remember “where we are at” and the parties are more likely to continue to be of a mind to settle and will be less distracted by other issues which are bound to arise sooner or later. You can keep your mediation process compact by both sides responding fast to new communication.
What if the mediation runs over time?
Our mediation service is flexible. The Mediator is happy to discuss time issues but does not provide advice as to how long your mediation might take. The time you book is entirely your choice.
Nonetheless, our advice is that you should always overestimate the time that may be required for your mediation. Even then, you should not assume that your mediation meeting will not overrun. It Is always a good idea to make provision for an over-run by avoiding commitments that require a “school bell” approach to your next engagement.
In the first place, please book the number of hours you might need using the fees and booking page.
We have prepared a number of example mediations which may give you some idea about the time and process.