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 participant 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. That involved the Mediator sitting down with the participants 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 participant.
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).
- 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. One of the participants 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 over many years, based on a full day. (Approximately 90% of full day mediation meetings conclude with an agreed settlement.)
We will always do our utmost to conclude a mediation as efficiently as possible. That means both the Mediator and the participants 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 settlement agreement
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 a very simple settlement agreement. The shorter the time frame, the more difficult it will be to fit this in. See "Settlement agreement" 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, additional issues often arise at the beginning of the mediation meeting. Sometimes, what first appear to be less important issues, turn out to be critical to one of the participants and the subject of much discussion.
The Mediator will take account of this probability in discussing time issues with you before make a booking.
- A compact time frame for online mediation
The most important consideration for an online mediation is a commitment by the participants that you will be continuously available over the time-frame you have booked. A compact time frame is essential because it provides continuity. Both the Mediator and the participants can remember “where we are at” and the participants are more likely to continue to be of a mind to settle and will be less distracted by other issues which could arise sooner or later if the mediation process is extended over several days.
Nonetheless, online mediation provides an excellent opportunity for a participant to discuss progress and strategy with some other person. This could be the lawyer sitting at your side, or in his/her own office. It could be a relative, friend, a co-director, and so on. The short breaks between calls may also provide an opportunity for drawing precise email messages.
The downside of those advantages is obvious. Telephone calls might be missed. It may take a long time to draw an email message. It’s often very easy to creep away to undertake some other quick task. It is so easy to seek advice from a lawyer who has little incentive to keep the conversation short.
Although the Mediator will not be slow to remind the participants that time is limited and discipline essential, time still passes. There are advantages and disadvantages to online mediation.
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.
If you want to discuss time issues with the Mediator, by all means do so. Alternatively you may wish to look at our Fees and Services page and then fix a date in the Diary to match the service you have ordered.