iStock_000012681402_ExtraSmallMediation has great advantages for FE and HE institutions:

  • it helps to ensure ‘equality of arms’ between the individual student or employee and the institution.
  • it offers `time out’
  • it allows people to talk things through in a `safe place’ and express strong feelings with someone experienced in helping the parties to pick up the pieces.
  • it can lead to resolutions in everyone’s interests and beyond the scope of the remedies available through formal adversarial procedures ( where in any case, someone has to ‘lose’).

An institution or provider should

  • Make sure that a clear explanation of mediation and its possibilities is given to the parties in a dispute .  The fact that it is risk–free should be emphasised.
  • The sooner mediation is tried the better but it can be tried more than once and at later stages in a dispute.

Does it work?

Mediation usually works, but if it fails nothing is lost and it can later turn out that it acted as a useful ‘reality-check’ and helped the parties understand one another’s positions better.

The role of the mediator

The mediator is an independent third party who:

  • is impartial, and has no stake in the outcome of the process
  • helps parties in dispute to clarify issues, explore solutions and negotiate their own agreement.
  • does not advise those in dispute, but helps people to communicate with one another.

The mediator’s skills include:

  • Treating the parties fairly
  • Helping the parties focus on the issues and on achieving a resolution
  • Listening
  • Being clear and open
  • Having the ability to deal with impasses
  • Respecting confidentiality
  • Confirming the parties are satisfied with any agreement

Other things you may find useful

New announcement:

Plans for a mediation Centre of Excellence in Wales

The National Mediator Database

provides a body of reference material as well as an extensive list of ‘rated’ mediators.

The Civil Court Mediation Service Manual lists ‘Referral Indicators’ which suggest that mediation may be worth a try. How many of these sound familiar in connection with disputes at your institution?

  • A result other than that possible through a court ruling is desirable
  • Speedy solution is desired
  •  ‘Legal proceedings fatigue’
  •   [Desire to preserve] long-term relationship Common future interest(s)
  • More litigation or more conflicts than presented in the proceedings
  • Importance of confidential treatment, with possibility of separate interviews
  • More parties involved in the conflict than just the parties in the proceedings
  • A longstanding solution is essential

The recent decision in The Queen on the application of Shelley Maxwell and the Office of the Independent Adjudicator[2010] EWHC 1889 (Admin) contains several helpful comments on the benefits of using mediation.