Introduction to Mediation
Explaining the concept of mediation to the uninitiated is not always easy. This is not because the concept or process is difficult in and of itself, but rather that most people intuitively search for a definition of the term "mediation" as a starting point. They often find that such a search can be an elusive one. Rather than setting down a definition, which may not carry much meaning for those unfamiliar with the process, it may be more useful to consider some of the key features of mediation, as set out below.
Key Features Of Mediation
- Mediator - No mediation would be complete without the presence of the neutral third party - the mediator. Where there is less consensus is the exact scope of the mediator's role. Regardless, it is commonly agreed that a mediator's main objective is to help those involved sort out their issues and arrive at a consensus. The issues may range from finalising an agreement, resolving a dispute, developing effective communication to building or improving relationships.
- Control - Parties have full control over the outcome. The mediator cannot impose a solution on the parties without both of their consent. This also provides the parties with more certainty over the dispute process because it is not left to a third party's judgment.
- Flexibility - Parties are free to propose and explore any variety of possible resolutions. They are not limited to simply seeking monetary compensation. This also tends to encourage parties to discuss issues that would not otherwise be a contentious matter in litigation but nevertheless have a significant impact on the dispute, including emotional or personal grievances.
- Confidentiality - Mediation is a confidential process where what was discussed or agreed in private is not disclosed to others without the consent of the parties.
- Lower Costs - Typically, the cost of attending mediation would be significantly lower than the cost of pursuing litigation. It is also common for parties to share the cost of the mediator and the mediation service provider.
- Option To Escalate - Should the parties fail to reach an agreement in the mediation, they may retain the option to escalate the dispute further to arbitration or litigation.
For a more detailed analysis of the definition of mediation, see:
Stop Shovelling Smoke: Give Users a Classic Definition of Mediation
For a historical look at the mediation space in Singapore, see:
What Happens In A Mediation?
The following is a brief description of the typical phases that a mediation session would undergo.
- Opening Statement - The mediator introduces himself or herself, as well as the mediation process. Afterwards, parties are invited to do a short self-introduction and also to share their perspective on the issues at hand.
- Agenda Setting - The mediator helps the parties distill the key issues to be explored and resolved for the mediation.
- Exploration Of Issues - The mediator facilitates the parties' discussion of each issue on the agenda, by encouraging each party to share their driving interests and concerns in the dispute.
- Private Caucus - At any time during the discussion, the mediator may call for a private caucus with either party, typically to resolve an impasse in the discussions. As always, all information shared and discussed during such sessions are confidential and should not be disclosed without consent.
- Option Generation - The mediator facilitates the parties' discussion of possible options that are mutually acceptable for resolving the issues raised.
- Finalising Agreement - The mediator will close the mediation by drafting a settlement agreement containing the options that both parties agree will resolve the issues raised. This may also be carried out by the mediation advocates representing each party.
Do note that not all mediation sessions will follow these phases in the exact same order nor will all of the phases necessarily be present in every single mediation session. Actual proceedings at a mediation session will depend very much on the nature of the issues to be mediated and also the preference of the parties. Some phases (e.g. Exploration Of Issues) may be repeated while others (e.g. Opening Statement) may contain several sub-phases within them. While phraseology will also differ depending on the training background of each mediator, the concepts should remain identical.
Professional mediators will typically take their parties through an overview of what the structure of the mediation will be like for that mediation session.
Why Consider Mediation?
Studies and records indicate that mediation has a very high success rate. International statistics frequently cite that mediation has 75-80% of successfully leading parties to an agreement.
The Singapore Mediation Centre states that of over 2300 matters have been mediated at SMC. About 75% of the cases mediated are settled.
Mediation will become increasingly prominent in Singapore’s dispute resolution scene. In 2013, the Ministry of Law welcomed the recommendations made by the International Commercial Mediation Working Group (ICMWG) to develop Singapore into a centre for international commercial mediation. These included the setting up of a professional standards body for mediation, SIMI, as well as a slew of other initiatives including enacting a Mediation Act, extending exemptions and incentives to mediation, and enhancing existing rules and Court processes to encourage greater use of mediation.
Read more about the recommendations by the ICMWG here:
When an individual is successfully assessed to be a SIMI Mediator, this represents a commitment from to achieve and maintain high professional standards in her or her practice of mediation. The SIMI Credentialing Scheme for mediators is a tiered one, with the key differential between the tiers being experience based. This will allow users to identify at a glance, a suitably experienced SIMI Mediator for their case.
All of our SIMI Mediators would have been assessed and/or certified by one or more of our SIMI Partner organisations, be it by a provider of a mediation training and assessment course (SIMI Registered Training Program), a mediation service provider (SIMI Registered Service Provider) or an organisation that does both of the above (SIMI Qualifying Assessment Program).
With the help of our SIMI Partners, we are able to ensure that users continue to enjoy the assurance of receiving mediation services of the highest quality when they choose to use a SIMI Mediator for their mediation.
You may also contact us if you have any queries on mediation.