It was disappointing to read Michael Haran’s criticisms of a recent mediation with which he had been involved. Mediation is the way forward. It will lead to quicker and cheaper settlements in all forms of litigation.
If mediation is carried out correctly, then the mediator should act to facilitate an agreement between the participants. The mediator should not advise on the law, suggest the terms of a compromise or push participants into a settlement. Although knowledge of the basic facts of the case is desirable, it is not necessary, as a skilled mediator should be able to use open questioning to focus the participants’ minds on the essential issues.
The essence of mediation is that the participants should arrive at their own solution and be happy with it. The mediator should not need legal training. Legal advice is the role of the solicitor.
Getting participants around a table to focus on issues and encourage compromise must be preferable to months of correspondence and point-scoring. Difficulties in mediation are often caused by lawyers failing to appreciate the flexibility of the process, and occasionally the legal costs incurred before attempting mediation. I hope that more litigators will see mediation as a cost-effective and efficient solution for clients.
Michael Phelps, solicitor and accredited mediator, Frearsons, Skegness