We offer mediation services that comply with the four principles of mediation:
- It is a voluntary process.
- It is a confidential process
- The mediator acts in an impartial way
- Decision making rests with the participants to the mediation
These principles are central to the delivery of an independent family mediation process and govern the way in which all recognised family mediators work. We cannot dilute these principles which are embedded in Code/s of Practice applied by all mediation representative and regulatory bodies and in documentation provided by mediators to clients.
As mediators we are not able to provide mediation without the voluntary agreement of both clients to participate in the process.
Within the civil jurisdiction, this has been expressed in the following way: “The hallmark of Alternative Dispute Resolution procedures, and perhaps the key to their effectiveness in individual cases, is that they are processes voluntarily entered into by the parties in dispute with outcomes, if the parties so wish, which are non-binding. Consequently the court cannot direct that such methods be used but may merely encourage and facilitate” (Halsey v Milton Keynes General NHS Trust  EWCA (Civ) 576). Attendance at a mediation assessment meeting can however be ordered as a contact activity under s.11A and 11C Children Act 1989.
The confidentiality of any process of family mediation is covered by an existing precedent: Re D (Minors) (Conciliation: Privilege) Disclosure of Information)  1 FLR 932, which states that “parents would not achieve a compromise unless they approached conciliation openly and were prepared to give and take. They would not make admissions or conciliatory gestures unless they were confident that these could not be used against them. Any attempt at conciliation must be off the record but there were exceptions . . . “and further “the only exception would be in rare cases where a statement made during conciliation indicates that the maker has caused or is likely to cause serious harm to a child”.
Any client entering a mediation process is asked to sign an “Agreement to Mediate – which sets out both the scope of and limitations to confidentiality in line with Re D (and in regard to legislation relating to abuse and harm and money laundering) – and further, participants to a mediation are asked not to call the mediator to provide evidence (either as notes or in person).
We act as an impartial third person to assist people to reach their own, informed decisions. It is therefore important that mediators are understood by all concerned to be independent of the court. They do of course have a special concern for the welfare and protection of children and young people.
We will work with clients to help them achieve an outcome that is appropriate to their situation. It is often the case that reaching an enduring outcome, likely to stand the test of time and deal with underlying issues of conflict, will require more than one meeting and wherever possible, arrangements should take into account that a mediation process may require the court to adjourn matters whilst the mediation continues.