It is essential for mediators to maintain high standards for professional dispute resolution. Mediators have different expertise and work with different types of cases such as victim/offender court diversion cases, workplace and union disputes, neighborhood conflict or community groups, child custody, and divorce.
Every case will have varying challenges and call for professionalism and high levels of self-awareness that puts the parties at the forefront of the process. A mediator must also have an awareness of their limitations and the limits of mediation, and have knowledge of when to terminate the mediation process and recommend alternative interventions. While assisting the parties in the process, mediators hold key ethical principles throughout the process.
In knowing these values, you can be reassured that you have a lot of power in this process, to voice your needs and be heard as you work through the conflict and move towards problem-solving and restoration with the other party.
Conflict Of Interest
Like lawyers and doctors, mediators should avoid serving in cases in which they have a direct or indirect interest. The interest can be of personal, professional, or financial benefit.
Due to a conflict of interest, their job can become complicated. Moreover, based on the biased mediation, the session can go into shambles. Hence, before you start a mediation session, make sure that you ask the mediator for a side of disclosure. If the mediator happens to be related to the case in any way, you can always opt for another mediator. However, this should be done well in advance.
It is up to the mediator to know the limits of what they can and cannot do. Just like in any other profession, each mediator has an area of expertise. Some are specialized in domestic mediation while others are proficient at legal disputes.
It is up to the mediator to only take on assignments that fall within their expertise. They should candidly communicate with the respective parties if the case is beyond their specialization and experience.
The mediator should work towards being impartial towards both parties and the outcome of the mediation. Self-awareness is a significant aspect of being a successful mediator, along with recognizing situations of unconscious bias. It can be difficult to engage with parties without developing some feelings or bias about them or the situation. However, this is part of the job and it is necessary for the mediator to remain impartial throughout the session.
You can request a new mediator if you believe that your mediator is being partial towards the other party. However, keep in mind that if you are not getting favorable results, just for the sake of getting a new mediator, you cannot accuse your current mediator of being partial.
Another major aspect of mediation is confidentiality. Your mediator must safeguard the privacy and confidentiality of the mediation process from the parties as well as from those outside the mediation.
Moreover, when a mediator meets separately with one of the parties, he/she must maintain the confidentiality of anything said in that private session that that party does not want the other party or parties to know. In addition, mediators have a duty to inform the parties of any relevant limits of confidentiality, such as mandated reporting of child abuse or the planned commission of a crime.
In the case of restorative justice mediation, the mediator will seek accountability for the charges that have been laid.
Mediators maintain high standards to ensure that mediation is a participant-led process and that parties are empowered and supported. The goal is to set up the parties for the best chance of success so they are satisfied with the outcome and their decision-making throughout the process.
About Mediation Services
Mediation Services has been providing services in mediation and conflict resolution since 1979. Our mission is to empower individuals in conflict, create safe spaces for difficult conversations, and build capacity for future conflict. Mediation Services is a non-profit organization with a social enterprise. We receive funding through Manitoba Justice for our court diversion referrals and from United Way to subsidize our costs for family and community conflict resolutions. Our training program builds skills in conflict management, leadership, and mediation. Contact us for more information about our services.