Mediation is a form of guided negotiation. Together with a mediator, parties look for a solution for a deadlocked or disturbed business or professional relationship. This solution may be that obstacles in the communication can be removed, damaged trust can be restored and the parties’ relationship can be continued. But also often parties decide to separate. In labor matters, we talk about exit mediation when employer and employee negotiate a departure arrangement that is acceptable to both parties.
The aim is to reach specific agreements in one or more mediation sessions, which both parties can support. The sessions are usually preceded by intake interviews between the mediator and the individual parties. What is discussed in mediation is strictly confidential and may not be used against each other later by either party. This basic principle, which is laid down in writing at the beginning of the mediation, guarantees an environment in which parties can freely exchange views and make proposals.
The mediator has a facilitating role as an independent third party. With respect for the parties’ autonomy, the mediator conducts the discussions and the negotiations. As much time as required is spent on discussing the conflict at hand, so that all parties involved understand how it could have arisen and which interests are mutually at stake. This is usually followed by an analysis of possible solutions, after which the parties, whether or not together with their advisors (often lawyers), start negotiating the most desirable solution. The mediator ensures a constructive course of these negotiations.
The commitments made between the parties are laid down in a Settlement Agreement at the end of the mediation. This Settlement Agreement has binding effect. This means that the parties must comply with the agreements made. The mediation ends when the Settlement Agreement is mutually signed.
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