Commercial mediation is a process of resolving disputes where a neutral and autonomous third party helps both sides come to an understanding that is beneficial to both of them. Mediation is done as an alternative to regular court proceedings which are thought to be time-consuming, expensive and disruptive. The mediator is selected by both parties, and his function is to speed up and add quality to the decision-making process. The mediator can look at the problem in more than legal terms leading to a more appropriate decision.
The first step in the mediation process is to select an independent mediator. The mediator's role is clearly presented and agreed upon by both parties. The terms of the mediation are agreed with the mediator including the mediator's fee, what information the mediator is allowed access to and a fixed time for mediation.
The Mediation Agreement regulates each party's conduct throughout the process. There is often a joint, opening meeting where representatives of both parties are present. The above meeting is optional and may not occur if the parties are too far apart. The mediator then holds separate meetings with each party. In this stage, the mediator takes a deep look into each party's case and explores the nature of each party's argument. The mediator may be allowed access to information that would have otherwise remained hidden although it would have helped resolve the dispute. Negotiations then occur with the mediator actively probing both parties to find some middle ground. Negotiations will continue until a party decides to withdraw from negotiations, if a settlement is reached or until the mediator determines that the deadlock cannot be broken. If a settlement is reached, a Settlement Agreement is prepared and signed in a final joint session.