Mediation is a party – centric and structured negotiation process where a neutral third party assists the parties in amicably resolving their dispute by using specialized communication and negotiation techniques.
Mediation is also voluntary. The parties preserve the right to decide for themselves whether to settle a dispute or not and the terms of settlement of the dispute. Even if the court has referred the case for the mediation or if mediation is required under a contract or a statute, the decision to settle and the terms of settlement always rest with the parties to the dispute.
This right of self-determination is an essential element of the mediation process. It results in a settlement initiated by the parties themselves and is, therefore, acceptable to them. The parties have ultimate control over the outcome of mediation, whereas the mediator is in control of process of mediation. Any party may withdraw from the mediation proceedings at any stage before its termination and without assigning any reason.
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Mediation provides an efficient, effective, speedy, convenient and less expensive process to resolve a dispute with dignity, mutual respect and civility. The procedure is simple and flexible. The process is conducted in an informal, cordial and conducive environment.
The process is confidential. Confidentiality is a valuable asset for most businesses. Not many would want their dirty laundry aired in public. The entire mediation process is confidential for the mediator as well as the participants. Not only the process is confidential but also the materials assembled during the course of mediation are usually not admissible in court if the mediation is not successful and the parties resort to litigation. The mediator will always describe the exact terms of confidentiality and the parties may also sign a non – disclosure agreement.
Mediation is a fair process, the mediator is impartial, neutral and independent .The mediator ensures that pre-existing unequal relationships, if any between the parties, do not affect the outcome of the process. Also it helps to maintain relationships between the parties whether personal or commercial.
Another important advantage of Mediation is that it allows creativity in dispute resolution wherein parties can accept creative and non-conventional remedies to solve their problems.
Mediation also helps and promotes finality, as the disputes get settled and there is no scope for any appeal or revision and further litigation. In case of court referred mediation, there is refund of court fees is permitted as per the rules in case of settlement.
Thus Mediation should be the primary option of dispute resolution, and if it fails then it should go to Litigation.