Online mediation: getting started

The online process emerges

Please do not be concerned about our use of the word “online”. This does not involve putting you through an electronic “sausage machine”. What is more, we assure you that the Mediator is not an electronic whizz kid on the tools we use are very basic.

As far as reasonably possible, our online process follows the same philosophy and procedures as a traditional process terminating with the mediation meeting. There are several particular advantages of using the online mediation process.

In theory, working online should be incredibly flexible. There is no reason why email messages should not be carefully crafted for you to “sleep on it” before making a final decision. You could alternatively decide to talk to your solicitor or co-directors are close relatives before you decide whether or not to increase your offer or accept the offer put forward by your conflict-party.

Unfortunately, our experience is that this sort of flexibility fails to achieve a satisfactory resolution of your dispute. It is not far different from the way you have been negotiating over the previous six months or six years. If you want resolution, then the Mediator can help you only if we work together within a framework of concentrated effort for a day or half day – just as happens in the tried and tested face-to-face situation.

We make that work with a simple, but carefully orchestrated procedure, largely by email, where we guide and inform you through each preliminary stage. By the time the special day of the mediation comes up, both participants, and the Mediator, are ready to hit the ground running. We now describe that framework.

Quick summary of how online mediation works

  • Andrew R Taylor, the Mediator, will apply the same professional impartiality, rules and procedures to every element of every mediation whether conducted online or primarily through a face-to-face meeting.
  • Our smooth administration process works by providing explanations of the next few steps at every stage. We never leave you in the dark as to what to do next.
  • Once you have registered and told us the bare bones about your dispute the Mediator will spend time assessing the information produced by both Participants, the history of your case, what you want to achieve through mediation and how that can best be done.
  • After this preliminary assessment he will then ring you to answer your questions, including:

whether you want a process which leads to a face-to-face meeting or the online process described in this page.

what sort of mediation you want and how many hours of his time you want to book. Read our advice on what time you might need; Of course, it will always be your choice as to how long you might need to book in the Mediator’s diary.

assuming you choose online, he will have a short word with you about technical issues: Internet speed, hardware, software and more. It will be useful if you could consider the flexible suggestions we make,before that discussion. If either of the participants is not happy then he will arrange with you to conduct the mediation entirely through telephone and email.

  • You will need to discuss all this with your conflict-party as soon as ever possible. Here are alternative template letters you could use if you’re not sure how to approach this situation.
  • Assuming you choose the online process, by now we shall have given you email guidance through four simple steps:

order the service you want from our Mediation Fees page

book a date for your mediation in the Mediator’s Diary

accept the mediation agreement and pay the fee for the mediation service you have ordered.

  • Once you have paid, the Mediator is now working for you. He is available to you by phone day or night (well, almost!).
  • By now we shall have encouraged you to send relevant documents which the Mediator might need either to better understand the dispute or because you wish to refer to them in the course of negotiations.
  • Next, the Mediator will ask each party to provide a position statement. Having checked that he absolutely understands what has been set down, he will “exchange” the statements between the parties.
  • From this point, it is essential that this process is packed into a comparatively short time frame. The Mediator will ensure that the process itself is not unduly rushed but it works best over an agreed timescale of between two and seven hours. If one or both participants require the process to be spread over a longer period, then provided that is arranged in advance, it will present no problem.
  • The Mediator may then ask for short written responses.

From this point, we provide more detailed information about what happens on the day of your online mediation

In approximately 90% of all cases, a settlement agreement is on the cards. Sometimes, this part of the process becomes stretched because participants have the opportunity to consider precisely what they want. Nonetheless, the mediator will encourage them to concentrate on the main points of the agreement rather than dwelling on secondary issues. Finally, the Mediator helps the participants to tie up the loose ends and draw a very simple settlement agreement. Once dated and signed, it is binding.

To move forward right now

Get your conflict-party onside, then both register at our “Request to Mediate” form .Absolutely no commitment at this point. That opens up your own dashboard where all relevant information relating to your dispute will remain for you to check up on, at any time.

If you are new to mediation, start by browsing a few pages of this site. Top of the pyramid is a general introduction to business mediation.

Further information

The Mediator’s role

Just as for a traditional face-to-face mediation meeting, the Mediator will shuttle between the participants, testing your assumptions, understanding your best interests and guiding you towards what you consider could be acceptable to the other participant. This role could be undertaken entirely on the telephone, but it is far more efficient for each communication to be via Skype or similar software.

The Mediator prefers a procedure whereby he and the participants start by meeting together in an online conference using Skype or some similar software. In the same way, it is best to conclude the negotiations with a second meeting at the end of the day or time booked. Between these two meetings, the mediator will engage in a number of telephone discussions with each of the participants.

It is essential that this process is packed into a comparatively short time frame. The Mediator will ensure that the process itself is not unduly rushed but it works best over an agreed timescale of between two and seven hours. If one or both participants require the process to be spread over a longer period, then provided a that is arranged in advance, it will present no problem.

No telephone meetings

The Mediator will not be happy to use multi-party telephone communication because there is a risk that he or a participant fails to “catch” who is speaking and what is being said. Nonetheless, if needs be, he will agree to telephone conferencing.

Familiarity with other devices and software

Please do not be concerned about our use of the word "online". This does not involve putting you through an electronic "sausage machine". What is more, we assure you that the Mediator is not an electronic whizz kid and the tools we use are very basic.

Nonetheless, it is essential that both participants and the Mediator are familiar with whatever software is used for meetings. The Mediator prefers Zoom but is also reasonably familiar with Skype for Business. If you prefer some other software, the Mediator will need a short time to assess ease of operation.

We can also give you a few tips about using the online environment.

If you are not confident in using communication software, you have two options. In the first place you could bring in a technical expert from your family or business, as a trusted third party, as described below. Alternatively, we could conduct the mediation by teleconference and email notwithstanding the Mediator’s reservations mentioned above.

Assistance from a solicitor or barrister

The extent of legal advice you need in the course of an online mediation, is entirely a matter of your choice. The Mediator will of course welcome your solicitor’s presence to advise you. In caucus meetings, the Mediator is happy to talk to both you and your legal adviser. However, he will always want to be certain that his last words are with you so that he can be quite clear that whatever step you instruct is your own independent choice.

Your solicitor is drafting skills could be particularly useful to you for drawing email messages to send to your conflict-party, as well as advising you from time to time. For the sake of openness, the Mediator will expect you to disclose in advance of the meeting whether or not your solicitor is likely to be at your side, so that he can be sure that your conflict-party has had the opportunity to make a similar decision.

Assistance from a trusted third party

There is a term of the mediation agreement whereby you accept liability for any breach of confidentiality by a third party whom you choose to involve in the mediation process. Provided you are prepared to accept that liability, there is nothing to prevent you from using the help of some third party to give you a hand with any aspect of communication – or even just to stand by in case you have a problem, or to advise you in any other way.

Use email only for short messages between participants

In an online mediation, email will be used only while the Mediator is talking to you, for you to deliver messages to your conflict party. The up-side of email is that it gives you an opportunity for precision. You can make or reject an offer precisely.

Time considerations

Most of us are in the habit of indulging in long social telephone conversations but conversely, dealing crisply, concisely and briefly on the telephone in our working role. The Mediator will endeavour to ensure that during the course of an online mediation, conversations do not drift unnecessarily but neither will a participant feel under any pressure to react quickly. Resolving your dispute is of critical importance to you. You will have paid the Mediator a substantial sum to assist you in that resolution. Despite time limitations, he will endeavour to give you time to gather your thoughts and consider options, throughout the process.

Please stay sharp

During this shuttle process, one of the participants has little to do but wait. The Mediator will always do his best to allocate a similar amount of time to each participant. In practice that is never achievable. In any event, there is an inevitable temptation to take other calls or engage in other work. Whilst the Mediator accepts that this is inevitable, we do ask participants to “stay sharp”, that is to say ready to give your full attention to the mediation as soon as you are called on to do so. We trust it goes without saying that the Mediator will be available for every minute you have paid him to work for you (subject to a 30 minute lunch break and occasional comfort breaks!)

Extended negotiation

There is always a risk that when the participants are not present in the same room together, there is less psychological pressure to come to an agreement within the time allocated. The Mediator will use his best efforts to keep the process running without interruption. He cannot achieve that without 100% cooperation from the participants.

Nonetheless, there are situations where it is particularly helpful to use online mediation with the intention of accepting delays while third parties are consulted, messages carefully crafted and maybe translated into or from another language.

Extended negotiation may also be unavoidable in a situation where the dispute itself is still evolving. For example, in the course of any continuing construction or service contract (Buildings? Software? Insurance?) it may be impossible to specify that a dispute could be resolved in a specified time, or even in a number of meetings. When the parties do not find it convenient to get together physically for a series of mediation meetings, the Mediator will be happy to act as coordinator or chairman in arranging each step of the process.

Contact the Mediator now on

07907 964565

OR

Send a message to: action@TheMediator.co.uk