What do I call the mediator?
The whole of the mediation is conducted on a first name basis. The mediator will introduce himself/herself by their Christian name and expect to be called by it throughout the day.
What do I wear?
It is important to feel right on the day and not out of place. As each party may be bringing a solicitor, barrister and trainee to the mediation day, if you are wearing very casual clothes you may feel intimidated by the suits. Each case will be different so it may be worth asking the mediator or parties if you feel it appropriate.
Food and drinks
A mediation is stressful and it can be a long day. It is important to look after yourself and eat well and take in fluids both before and during the mediation.
The venue should have tea, coffee and water available and food is usually ordered in for lunch but do check beforehand and if necessary go prepared.
The length of the day
A mediation can start at 9.30 and not finish until late at night. The mediator will only spend half his time with you. It is perfectly acceptable to do some work when he is with the other party or read a newspaper or magazine.
As the length of the day is unpredictable it is wise to make arrangements for child care, collections from school and even pets as you never know when the mediation will finish.
Find somewhere where you are not popping out every 30 minutes to put money in the metre or that will close before the mediation finishes.
Authority to Settle
If you need someone’s authority to settle, or just wish to consult them, it is better that they are at the mediation so that they can understand what has happened, what is being said and the dynamics of the process. If this person cannot attend, make sure that they are at the other end of a phone so you can ring them, Skype them etc when you need to speak to them, often out of office hours.
Know your Case
Even if you are represented by a solicitor, the mediator is going to discuss your case with you so it helps to read your file of papers on the previous evening to refresh your memory. There is no need to worry about this as you will be in a private meeting room, it is not a cross examination and your solicitor will be there to help you.
The legal costs
The mediator is almost bound to ask you the legal costs of the case going forward and taking it to trial so it is worth discussing this with your solicitor before the mediation. He will want to understand how you will fund those costs and will also talk about the risk and payment of the other party’s costs should you lose at trial
Time Spent with the Mediator
There is no fixed time that the mediator will spend with you although they try to spend an equal amount of time with each party during the day. It can seem more time with other party. Normally the mediator is progressing the case and probably for your good. However, if you feel ignored just ask the mediator to explain what is happening. He/she will be happy to explain and reassure you about the progress of the mediation.
Remember the process is without prejudice so you can speak freely. It will be a hard day and you will need to be flexible if the case is to settle. Don’t be afraid to think laterally and if you think something might help tell the mediator, no matter how trivial it might appear to you.