David Richbell FCIArb (Mediation)

Commercial Mediator & ADR Specialist

Choosing a Mediator

The Mediator’s role is to create the best situation for the parties to achieve a settlement. It is their settlement, not the Mediator’s, so much of the Mediator’s role is the efficient management of the process. But it is more than that - the Mediator must quickly build a relationship of trust with all parties, must create momentum towards settlement, must be a skilled negotiator, be tenacious and patient - and be the last to leave.

There are some sound guidelines to choosing the right mediator for your dispute:

If you have good experience of a Mediator already, or the other side nominate a Mediator who you can check and in whom you have confidence, then go to the individual. If you need a choice, specialist or experienced support then contact a provider organisation who can help by mediating the mediation.

Lawyer/non-lawyer? male/female? specialist/generalist? The general rule is that a good Mediator can mediate anything. Experience is good but does not necessarily guarantee the best.

Speak with the Mediator.
If you have no experience of the proposed Mediator, speak with them, get a feel of how they work and if they are suitable for your case. If you feel they are not, seek an alternative and speak with them.

Speak with colleagues. Actual experience of a Mediator is better than no knowledge, although comments will inevitably be subjective.

The fee. It is much better to have a pre-agreed fee than pay on an hourly basis, because you are then in control of the costs. Check that the fee includes for preparation time and, if so, how many hours? If not, get the Mediator to agree a limit.

Make an internal report. After the mediation, let your colleagues know how the mediator performed, the strengths and weaknesses and if the qualities noted in the opening paragraph above were fulfilled i.e the Mediator’s role. Also the Mediator is likely to make post-mediation contact and ask for feedback. Let the Mediator know what you thought as well.