A mediation can be seen as having five main phases:
- Initial contact - where a party or parties involved in a dispute, or a representative of these (such as a solicitor), first makes contact with a mediator. Where there is agreement on mediation in principal but not on a specific mediator, parties may look for nominations from the CIArb. At this point the mediator can explain the process involved, answer questions, and provide a copy of the Agreement to Mediate which sets out the rules for the mediation. Each party involved will need to sign this agreement. (A single party may initially contact a mediator and ask the mediator to approach the other party/ies about using mediation to resolve the dispute.) Please note that co-mediation, involving 2 mediators, is recommended in large scale and complex disputes involving multiple parties.
- Invitation to Engage - the mediator will seek agreement to engage in mediation from all of the parties involved. Practical arrangements for meeting venues and times of meetings, and payment of mediator(s)' fees will be made. Each party submits all relevant paperwork to the mediator(s) at this stage.
- Individual meetings with parties - the mediator will usually meet separately with each of the parties and answer any further questions in relation to the mediation. In these confidential sessions the mediator will hear about the dispute and explore the parties' position and their interests and needs. At these meetings parties will also sign the agreement to mediate.
- Plenary and/or separate meetings - on an agreed day all parties will come together and, if appropriate, meet together with the mediator. It is possible that the mediator may choose to use separate ("caucus") meetings to allow discussion of issues with one or more of the parties privately. These separate meetings are confidential and the mediator may not communicate anything raised in a private meeting with a party to anyone else without their permission. Depending on the situation, a mediation may last from a few hours to a whole day. It is possible that it may stretch into a further day where the parties decide that progress made warrants this. When all parties are satisfied that agreement is reached, this is written up and signed by all the parties and the mediator. The agreement remains confidential to those involved, unless they agree otherwise.
- Follow up - it is possible that the parties may include in their agreement a future follow up session to review how the agreement is working and make any necessary amendments, etc.