Online Mediation – The New Frontier for Dispute Resolution.
- How does online mediation differ from face to face?
It’s quicker to set up, cheaper (no venue or travel costs) and takes less time (no travel).
- Do solicitors, barristers and parties all need to be together?
Absolutely not. Advisers and their client(s) can all be assigned to one “breakout room” where they can talk freely in confidence. Only the mediator can visit them there.
- Do you still have a joint session?
Yes, if everyone is willing. In this case the parties are invited to join a main meeting room with the Mediator.
- Is preparation the same as for a face to face session?
Yes. In addition, the parties and advisers will be sent a Zoom invitation for the day. It is also good to have the usual pre mediation chat on Zoom with the advisers, parties and the Mediator to check everything is set up using the technology.
- “Technology set up?” What’s involved?
Ideally you will use a computer or laptop, but a phone will do. Ideally you will have earphones with a microphone but usually the microphone on the computer/ laptop/ phone will work fine.
- Should we still prepare Position Statements?
Yes, in all mediations the more each party knows beforehand about where the other party is coming from, the better. It’s also a useful summary for the Mediator.
- Is online mediation unsuitable for any cases?
Some say it’s unsuitable for highly emotional cases but in our experience the reverse can be true. There can be a deep sense of connection and confidentiality by video.
- Does it all have to be done in one day? What about when parties are in different time zones?
You can have several sessions of say 2 hours each over several days. No problem internationally, you just choose the slots when working hours overlap.
- How is the settlement agreement drafted and signed?
This can be either by e-mail or using for example the communal drafting facility on Zoom where the mouse can be passed to each solicitor in turn to make amendments. Signature can be electronic by e-mail or using a secure platform such as DocuSign.
- So why wasn’t online mediation such a thing before Covid-19?
Good question. Many mediators have been asking themselves this. Perhaps because it is well known by mediators that chocolate encourages people to settle and this is one of the few things you actually need to meet face to face to share!