Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution in which a neutral third person helps the parties reach a voluntary resolution of a dispute. Mediation is an informal, confidential, and flexible process in which the mediator helps the parties to understand the interests of everyone involved, and their practical and legal choices. It can help people resolve civil, family, juvenile and other matters in a less adversarial setting. Court mediation programs have been shown to save the parties time and money, improve satisfaction with the court’s services and reduce future disputes and offenses.

The mediator helps the parties to:

  • communicate better,
  • explore legal and practical settlement options, and
  • reach an acceptable solution of the problem.

The mediator does not decide the solution to the dispute; the parties do. Mediation can result in a legally enforceable contract agreed to, in writing, by the parties.
1. Why mediate?

Direct negotiation, either personally between opposed parties or through their legal representatives, is the initial preferred path to resolving disputes and remains the most flexible and cost-effective approach.

The success of direct negotiation however depends on the willingness and ability of the parties to communicate, to explore possible solutions, to share information and to make concessions. Mediation is geared towards overcoming the barriers to successful negotiation.

A skilled mediator will help parties to focus on their real needs and concerns, and to find creative solutions that a legal process may not achieve for them.

Mediation is a voluntary and confidential process designed to give parties an opportunity to be heard and to ventilate the dispute. Parties are only bound by the mediation process when joint decisions are reached and confirmed in the form of a written agreement after completion of the process.

Mediation offers parties an alternative to settling their dispute that is likely to lead to optimal solutions and to the preservation of relationships.

AIM mediators encourage the participation of the parties' legal representatives throughout the mediation process in order to enhance the attorney and client relationship.

As lawyers, AIM mediators recognise that litigation is sometimes a more appropriate means of resolving disputes. However, experience has shown that even a failed mediation often has the result of limiting the issues to be decided through litigation.

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2. Rules of Mediation

The Confidentiality Rule: A mediator may only disclose confidential information to any party if expressly authorised to do so by the party who disclosed the information. This Rule creates a confidential setting within which the parties' goals and interests can be explored effectively.

The Without Prejudice Rule: Any offer, concession or admission made during mediation is not admissible as evidence in court. This Rule enables the parties to make full disclosure without fearing that such disclosures may later be used against them in a court of law.

The Rule that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed in writing and signed by the parties: This Rule enables the parties to make provisional concessions that are subject to a final agreement being reached on the other outstanding issues in dispute.

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3. AIM'S Mediation Process

  • Once appointed, the AIM mediator immediately informs the other party or parties and their legal representatives that a dispute has been referred but will not communicate with any party in isolation;
  • The AIM mediator arranges a joint meeting with the parties and their legal representatives to discuss the terms and conditions of the mediation;
  • The parties sign an Agreement to Mediate, should they agree to proceed with the mediation;
  • Mediation takes place on a date and at a venue agreed upon between the parties and their legal representatives;
  • The AIM mediator, in co-operation with the parties' legal representatives, will assist the parties in reaching a settlement of their dispute, or limiting issues of dispute and will draft a settlement agreement for consideration and signature by the parties;

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