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How important is it for a mediator to have detailed knowledge about the underlying subject matter of the dispute?

It is commonly considered that the mediator needs to be qualified in the profession relevant to the dispute; that a case with deep legal issues requires a lawyer mediator, or that an engineering dispute needs a mediator who is also a chartered engineer. That is seldom the case, as many mediators range of cases illustrate it seldom works out that way!

The mediator does not give advice, and does not make any judgements. The mediator encourages the parties to put all their past squabbles behind them, to rise above the details of the dispute, and to consider how the dispute may be resolved to the advantage of both sides, by looking at the bigger picture by bridging the gap and by reaching a solution they can both (or all) live with. To assist the parties with that approach, it is not necessary for the mediator to explore – or even to understand fully – all the technical aspects of the dispute. Their main skills should be as a listener, to draw the parties together and perhaps to suggest realistic solutions.

Despite this we recognise that customers want a mediator with specific knowledge or experience and therefore  the mediators work in 14 main sectors relating to their specific expertise, including:

  1. Workplace
  2. Construction and engineering
  3. Claims against Professionals
  4. Trusts, wills and Probate
  5. Personal Injury and Clinical negligence
  6. Insurance litigation – policy disputes and coverage
  7. Costs
  8. Property and Landlord & Tenant
  9. Family and relationships
  10. Tax
  11. Company, shareholder and partnership disputes
  12. IT contracts
  13. Travel claims
  14. Consumer and Retail

However, they often straddle several sectors because of their wide experience and it is always worth checking whether a mediator is willing to cross over into another sector.