A question often asked by parties to a dispute looking for a mediator is “who should I use?” There are many on offer so the choice can be bewildering.
I would actually recommend shopping around as there are plenty of mediation providers like #promediate out there, who may offer better value. For example we offer a 10% reduction in fees if a case does not settle, which is not to be sniffed at. We only do this if both parties agree and obviously don’t let it colour our thinking.
The fear with the larger providers is that you may end up with a second or third choice of mediator – someone who happens to be available. They often have a lot of nondescript mediators, all excellent of course, but they have higher overheads with their base in London and large number of staff members to pay and flashy website to maintain. It isn’t well known but many mediators have to pay quite a lot more than our mediators to be on these panels. We only charge £60 per annum. To instruct one of our mediators or to talk to me personally or another mediator about your dispute or to join #ProMediate just get in touch via www.promediate.co.uk
If they do put forward a mediator, it is always best in my view to ask for references before instructing them or at least have a quick chat with them if they are available.
A legal dispute can be one of the most difficult experiences a person may ever deal with. It is important that your mediator is suitable for all participants and that the mediator is effective in resolving the dispute.
It’s crucial that you feel happy with your mediator and you do need to feel comfortable discussing important personal issues with your mediator. If you interview two mediators and both are equally qualified, go with the one you like more.
Experience. There are many aspects to a mediator’s “experience.” How many cases has your mediator successfully mediated? Has your mediator received any awards or accolades like our mediators? Does your mediator participate in the local mediation community? To what degree does your mediator keep up with developments in the law and trends in mediation? Experience is important, but it is not necessarily the most important consideration. All great mediators were once brand-new mediators with no experience!
That said, at ProMediate we have award winning mediators such as Peter Causton, who won the award for Mediator of the Year (Highly Commended) in 2018 by the Civil Mediation Council and the College of Mediators at the National Mediation Awards and ProMediate has won awards as well such as the Innovation and Excellence Awards 2019 and been shortlisted for the Modern Law Awards 2018.
Subject Matter Expertise. Does your mediator have “subject matter” expertise, i.e., expertise with your particular type of dispute? For example, if you need to mediate a trademark dispute would you rather use a mediator with intellectual property experience or with divorce experience? Is it important to you that your mediator has relevant experience before his or her career as mediator? So for example some people would prefer to use a surveyor as a mediator in a property dispute.
Type of Mediation
Don’t forget that you dont have to pay for a full day mediation and you can always ask to extend the time if things are going well. Don’t rule out online mediation or telephone mediation. It’s important your mediator is flexible and prepared to work later than expected or to follow up afterwards. for example I am an international online mediator and regularly use Zoom to conduct online mediations.
Mediation style is an important consideration and should not be overlooked when selecting your mediator. Ask your prospective mediator what style (or styles) of mediation they practice.
Other Considerations. Other considerations in choosing a mediator may include the reputation of the mediator, whether the mediator has a legal background or how much they charge, their availability, etc.
There is no single “correct” factor when choosing a mediator. Someone with lots of expertise in an area who seems suitable might have little experience mediating, and that should not necessarily rule out that mediator. You should call a couple different mediators and spend a few minutes talking to each of them. If you like what you hear, schedule a consultation so you can get a better sense of who you would like to hire.