Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) which is a way of resolving disputes between two or more parties. The mediator acts as a third party and assists the parties to negotiate a settlement agreement. Mediators may be able to give their opinion as to what is fair or reasonable in a settlement but this is obviously not something that a party would have to abide by. It is usually the case though when all parties agree to a settlement, the mediator will generally do so as well.
The process of mediation is structured, timetabled and flexibility, it is a private and confidential process which the acting mediator is the key feature to the success of the mediation. Mediation is a voluntary process and there is no obligation to go through mediation.But sometimes settlement agreements signed by the parties will be legally binding.
Mediation processes vary from case to case, the mediator can apply different techniques and dialogues between parties to overcome the dipute, these techniques are open and aim to assist the parties to reach a settlement with definite terms. These factors depend greatly on the mediator's skills and training as well as experience and expertise. It is important to remember that a mediator must be wholly impartial and non-biased. Parties can use a mediator for mediation in many number of conflicts, for example legal, workplace, commercial, civil, diplomatic, family and community matters. It may be the case that a third-party representative may contract and mediate between unions and corporations if these are the parties. This could arise when a worker's union goes on strike in a dispute and the parties may agree to hire a mediator to help settle the dispute or help reach an agreement between the union and the corporation.
Conciliation is another form of alternative dispute resolution which covers all the basic mediation and advisory dispute resolution processes. Neither conciliation nor mediation will determine an outcome but share various similarities such as they involve a mediator or a third party to help with the discussions. One major difference between conciliation and mediation is the fact that a conciliator will possess expert knowledge of the area that they are to conciliate, the conciliator can also make suggestions as to settlement terms and give legal advice on the subject.
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