Why Mediate Online?
"I expect (Online Dispute Resolution) to become the dominant way to resolve all but the most complex and high value disputes".
Richard Susskind, IT Advisor to the Lord Chief Justice, page 102, 'Tomorrow's Lawyers' - 2013 - Oxford University Press
FOR FULLY ONLINE MEDIATIONS
Conducting mediations wholly online provides the opportunity to extend the benefits of mediation to many disputes that otherwise would not be able to benefit including:-
* Disputes between parties who are too geographically distant to enable a meeting to take place - eg international commercial disputes.
* Disputes where the value of the subject matter of the dispute is not sufficiently high as to justify the cost of a meeting based mediation e.g. consumer disputes.
* Disputes where there are sensitivities between the parties that would be at risk of exacerbation by a meeting ,eg in matrimonial disputes.
* Disputes where one party cannot attend a meeting due to severe disability.
FOR IN-PERSON MEDIATIONS
Our unique platform adds significant value to meeting based mediations, as follows:-
* Prior to a mediation meeting, the mediator's understanding of the matter is usually limited to a statement in writing by the parties and possibly, but not always, a telephone conversation. Much of the initial time in the first 1:1 meetings is taken up with the mediator gaining a more in depth understanding of the facts and what the dispute means to the parties. He may often have to try to assist the parties in controlling any negative emotions provoked by the dispute and the other party. He will also need to help the parties understand fully, and be confident of, the impartial nature of his role. This can take up much time, certainly often the whole of the first two private meetings. However, by using the secure and confidential private discussion areas to 'talk' to each party, the mediator will be able to significantly improve his understanding of the matter, and help the parties address the mediation in a positive frame of mind, before the date of the meeting. Thus, when the 'face to face' part of the mediation commences, the mediator will be able to 'hit the ground running' to improve the prospects of a successful solution being found before the time allowed for the meetings expires. This will be particularly important for short time mediations.
* Meetings have to be arranged to a date and time convenient for all parties. There will inevitably be an intervening delay, which may even lengthen should the meeting need to be re-arranged due to illness etc. Since use of our online platform can be undertaken by each participant in their own time, this means that efforts to try to resolve the dispute can commence almost immediately the mediator has been appointed. This may help 'take the heat' out of a dispute pending the mediation meetings. There also remains the possibility that a dispute may settle prior to the meetings.
* Time and cost in writing and telephoning the various parties and their representatives can be reduced and the whole process of information exchange prior to the meeting made more efficient. In particular , any key documents as well as the mediation agreement and rules etc, can be uploaded to the online file.
* If the meetings do not result in an immediate resolution of the dispute, further attempts to resolve the matter can continue to take place online, thus improving overall the prospects of success.
* The online file can be accessed during the meetings, to log proposals and clarify in writing any significant statements. In this way , while the mediator is in private meeting with one party, the other party could be reviewing the observations of the mediator, which may include some suggestions for resolution, as well as any significant statements and/or could be putting in writing any thoughts, or clarifying any information, as requested by the mediator.
* If use has been made of the online file during the pre-mediation phase prior to the meetings, the mediator can access the file to remind himself of relevant issues and facts as explained to him in posted messages. For example, he could be reading the posted discussions from a private online session with one party whilst in private meeting with that person, to identify any shift in position, or indeed whilst in meeting with the other party.
* An area can be set aside for the anonymised posting of suggested solutions. When one party makes a suggestion, the other party's view of the suggestion is often partly coloured by suspicion of motive. Anonymising the proposal helps focus attention on the proposal itself. For obvious reasons this will only be of value when there are more than two participants ('if it wasn't me then it must have been you'), but that can include lawyers and other representatives.