Mediation is offered as a free service for members of the London & Middlesex County community. During the mediation process, two trained student mediators provide the framework for effective communication between the parties in conflict. A mediator does not take sides, decide who is right or wrong, or impose solutions. Rather, the mediator acts as a neutral third party setting ground rules, focusing the discussion and creating a safe and fair environment where the parties can resolve their differences. Each party is given equal opportunity to present the issue from their perspective, and to listen and respond to the other party's concerns. The mediation process is flexible to the needs of those involved. Attention is focused on each person's interests as the parties are in full control of the outcome.
Mediating through the DRC has many advantages:
- Free: Avoid the costs of going to court, the DRC's services are free.
- Fast: We will contact participants within a few days. The mediation process can be completed in as little as two weeks.
- Convenient: Mediation sessions can be arranged to accommodate your schedule; day, evening or weekend.
- Informal: You can work through your conflict in a relaxed, neutral and private setting. Mediation is flexible in design and can be tailored to your needs.
- Voluntary: Mediation is begun only after both parties agree to the process, and either party can walk away at any stage during mediation.
- Confidential: All information is held in strict confidence.
Types of Disputes Mediated
The types of disputes we will mediate include:*
- breach of contract
- debts owed
- roommate and landlord-tenant disputes
- neighbour disagreements
- employment issues
* Please note that we do not mediate family law disputes or criminal charges, due to the sensitive nature of these matters. We also cannot mediate disputes that involve a client of Community Legal Services.
The Mediation Process
Step 1: Initial Contact
The mediation process begins when one of the disputing parties contacts the DRC. This can be via phone, email, walk-in, or referral from another source. The student coordinator will discuss with the initiating party the basic facts of the dispute and how mediation may assist the parties in resolving the dispute. The student coordinator will then telephone the non-initiating party or send a letter to invite them to mediate the dispute. If the non-initiating party agrees to participate then a mediation date is scheduled. Prior to the mediation session both parties must sign an “Agreement to Mediate” form.Step 2: Opening the Session & Introducing the Process
The DRC employs a co-mediation model that pairs an experienced supervising mediator, usually one of the student coordinators, with a mediation intern. The co-mediators will begin the session by explaining the process, laying some ground rules, and emphasizing the confidential nature of mediation.Step 3: Gathering Information, Defining Issues & Generating Agenda
The mediators will begin by asking each party to make a brief opening statement. This will allow both parties to relate the facts as they perceive them without fear of reprisal. After both parties have been given equal time to speak, the mediators will begin to help the parties narrow their focus to their respective interests. An interest is a party's underlying motivation for the position they are taking. The mediators will try to get the parties to agree on an agenda of interests that need to be addressed.Step 4: Exploring the Issues
Once an agenda has been set, the mediators will help the parties explore their interests as they relate to the current dispute. By keeping the discussion flowing, the parties may be able to come to a better understanding ofStep 5: Generating Options for Settlement & Problem Solving
After each issue has been explored to the parties’ satisfaction, the mediators will encourage a brainstorming session to generate possible solutions to the problems facing each party. Again, this is an interactive process where both parties are encouraged to contribute to a list of options for settlements. Creativity is key, so no suggestion is without merit. The mediators in general will refrain from making suggestions unless asked to do so by both parties.
Step 6: Writing the Agreement & Closing the Session
If the parties come to a mutually agreeable solution to their dispute, the mediators will work with the parties to draft a mediation agreement in their own words. Each party will have opportunity to revise the draft agreement as they see fit. Once the draft is completed, each party will be asked to sign. Copies of the agreement will be given to each party, as well as kept on file at the DRC office. It is important to remember that under no circumstances should a party feel pressured to sign an agreement. Mediation is a voluntary process from start to finish. Even at the agreement stage, a party is free to walk away without repercussions.