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Consumer Mediation Information

 


WHAT IS MEDIATION?

  • A mediator is a neutral person who assists parties and their advisers to a resolution of the dispute. 
  • The mediator can chair joint sessions and meet with parties in private and find out underlying reasons for the dispute and identify interests of the parties in addition to their rights. 
  • A mediator will not make a decision or make any findings and the mediation process is confidential and without prejudice. It is intended that the whole mediation process should be completed within 90 days.

IS MEDIATION EFFECTIVE?

  • Research shows that recourse to mediation has a high success rate; it is faster and can save legal costs and it can result in preserving the business relationships between the parties for the future.

WHEN CAN YOU USE MEDIATION?

  • Mediation can be attempted at any stage of a dispute and the courts are likely to permit adjournments to litigation if there is a chance that mediation could resolve the dispute.
  • If the mediation fails, the parties are free to proceed with litigation without prejudice to their legal rights. Most types of dispute can go to mediation provided the parties make a genuine attempt to mediate.  
  • Some cases where mediation has been appropriate to use include disputes involving consumer issues, family companies, partnerships, professional negligence, inheritance, employment, family and construction.

WHAT IS THE DISPUTE RESOLUTION SERVICE (DRS)?

  • The Dispute Resolution Service (DRS) was set up to provide a mediation service to assist with resolving disputes which would avoid the time, expense and  stress associated with going to court.
  • Mediation has now become well established as an effective means of resolving disputes and courts and advisers will now encourage parties to explore resolution of the dispute before coming to court. 
  • The DRS is managed by a management Board comprising experienced Solicitors and Barristers.
  • The DRS operates through a Panel of Solicitors and Barristers who are trained in mediation law and practice and who have learned mediation skills and who confirm they are eligible to act as mediators on behalf of the parties to disputes. 
  • All members of the DRS Panel must adhere to the DRS Code of Conduct and to the EU Code of Conduct for Mediators. 

IF MEDIATION IS SUITABLE FOR ME, HOW DO I SELECT A MEDIATOR?

  • First, contact the other party to the dispute and ask if they will agree in principle to try mediation as a method of resolving the dispute. This is essential and should be able to done quickly.
  • Many contracts now provide that if the parties have a dispute that they agree to use mediation.
  • Mediation is a voluntary process and it cannot happen unless each party is willing to make a genuine attempt to resolve their dispute by mediation.
  • If the other party agrees in principle to try mediation, select one of the mediators from the Directory of Mediators. Each mediator has a profile page which lets you know what type of mediation they carry out. You should choose a mediator who is experienced in the type of dispute that is relevant to you.
  • Tell the other party of your proposed choice of mediator and allow them time to consider the suggested mediator.
  • The other party may accept your choice or propose an alternative and when a particular mediator is agreed in principle, the proposed mediator can be contacted. The mediator’s contact details, including email address are on their profile page.

REFERRING THE CASE TO THE MEDIATOR

  • Send brief details about the type of case and the parties involved to the mediator.
  • Allow the mediator time to consider whether he will accept the case. The mediator may have acted for one of the parties in the past or may not be available at an early date.
  • The mediator will inform you within 21 days whether they are willing and able to deal with the dispute.
  • If the mediator agrees to accept the case, he will write to the parties to confirm his appointment and to outline the fees which he will charge for the mediation.
  • This will give you an opportunity to decide whether to go ahead with the mediation.
  • The mediator will request that each party will provide to the mediator, within a reasonable period (usually 14 days in advance of the date of the mediation), all necessary documents and arguments which are relevant for the mediation.
  • What constitutes a reasonable period will depend upon the size and complexity of the dispute however the mediator will endeavour to ensure that the mediation is completed within 90 days of the receipt by the mediator of the complete complaint file or if longer is required by the mediator then within the time periods set out in “WHERE DOES A MEDIATION TAKE PLACE AND HOW LONG DOES IT LAST?”  below. 
  • Once the mediator has all necessary documents and arguments, they will confirm to the parties that they now have the complete complaint file and are in a position to proceed.
  • If the mediation proceeds, the mediator will make all the arrangements with you as to where and when the mediation will take place. He may also ask both parties for details about the dispute in advance of the mediation. You may bring your legal advisor or friend with you to the mediation, but you are not obliged to do so.
  • Mediators with the DRS are willing to accept both domestic and cross-border disputes. Some disputes can be resolved using the EC Online Dispute Resolution platform.
  • If the mediator has a conflict of interest and can no longer act in the mediation, this will be notified to the parties by the mediator who will also notify the Dispute Resolution Service, if necessary requesting that another mediator is appointed.
  • An appointment of a new mediator is dealt with in the same way as appointment of the original mediator laid out above.

WHAT HAPPENS IF WE FAIL TO AGREE A MEDIATOR?

  • In the unlikely event that a mediator cannot be agreed with the other party, the matter may be referred to the Dispute Resolution Service to appoint a mediator.
  • Send contact details about yourself and the other party to:

Ms Ann McMahon ,

Assistant Secretary,

Law Society of Northern Ireland

Law Society House,

96 Victoria Street,

Belfast

BT1 3GN.

  • You may email this information to ann.mcmahon@lawsoc-ni.org

  • Do not include any papers about the dispute as these are not required to select and appoint a mediator.
  • Ms. McMahon will contact both parties, usually by phone to speed matters up, to discuss selecting and appointing a mediator.
  • If a mediator is agreed and accepts the appointment, the matter will be passed to that person to make all the arrangements for the mediation.
  • The mediator selected will be one of those who is on the website directory.
  • A fee is not charged for this appointment process.

WHERE DOES A MEDIATION TAKE PLACE AND HOW LONG DOES IT LAST?

  • Mediation does not take place in a court building but in a neutral location which the mediator will agree with the parties to suit everyone. This can be anywhere where there are facilities with separate rooms for each of the parties and for the mediator and for refreshments.
  • The time envisaged for a mediation will be discussed with the mediator in advance of the mediation. Most mediations are completed within a day.
  • You may bring your legal adviser or a friend with you to the mediation – this should be mentioned to the mediator in advance to ensure that each party is aware of it and has a chance of doing likewise.
  • Mediation can also be carried out by telephone conference between the parties if appropriate.
  • The aim of the DRS is to complete all mediations within 90 days of the receipt by the mediator of the complete complaint file.
  • In highly complex matters however the mediator may need to extend this time period at their discretion. If this is required, the mediator will notify all parties in writing.

CONDUCT OF THE MEDIATION

  • The mediator will conduct the mediation in accordance with the DRS Code of Practice   and the EU Code of Conduct    
  • The mediator will conduct the mediation in an impartial way and does not provide advice to either party. They will assist the parties in defining the issues involved in the dispute and will work with the parties to settle the dispute.
  • The mediator will encourage the parties to generate their own solutions however the mediator may suggest solutions to the dispute for the parties’ consideration if necessary.
  • Any party has the right to withdraw from the mediation at any stage.
  • If a settlement is reached, the terms of that settlement will be documented by the mediator for the reference of both parties.

 

HOW MUCH DOES A MEDIATION COST?

  • The fees will be in accordance with the Consumer Mediation Fees scale which you can view by clicking below
**Please note that mediation for health disputes does not fall within Consumer Mediation. If you have health dispute which requires mediation, DRS members will be happy to deal with this using the Non-Consumer Mediation processes.