It is sometimes said that the parties are in charge of the content at mediation and that the mediator is in charge of the process.
On the standard mediation training courses the novice mediators are taught that the mediation starts with a joint opening session, attended by everyone at which the parties introduce themselves, the mediator explains the process and the parties then speak.
However, many using mediation services will have experienced a variety of different ways in which mediations start. Some mediators do like to stick to the formula in which they have been trained and many lawyers experienced in mediation find it useful. In other cases the mediator or the lawyers do not think it a good idea. Not infrequently clients are nervous about the prospect and in some they point blank refuse.
Some opening joint sessions are short and simply involve everyone introducing themselves and the mediator saying a few words. Others are longer with a lot of productive discussion. Sometimes there is no opening session but a joint meeting takes place later in the day. In other cases, where the parties are reluctant to meet the mediator may have a meeting with only the lawyers to talk about how they see the day best proceeding.
All this fits with the flexible nature of mediation. Our preference at The Property Mediators is to negotiate the process with everyone. For us, the mediator aids communication, uses his or her experience to guide the parties and holds the whole thing together. Ultimately however the parties determine the process as well as the content.
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