Department of Justice is now the Department of Communities and Justice. Find out more >
Mediation is an ADR process where an independent third party, the mediator, assists the people in dispute to identify the disputed issues, develop options, consider alternatives and try to reach an agreement.
the mediator does not give their advice or opinion about the issues or have any role in deciding the outcome of the mediation.
A mediation session is usually a structured, face-to-face meeting with all the people in dispute and one or more mediators.
At mediation, you will generally be asked to talk directly to the others involved in the dispute and may also have separate sessions with the mediator. There will usually be breaks for each person to reflect on the discussion and get advice or support if they need it.
Mediation may be voluntary, court ordered or required as part of a contract. It may also be part of a court or government agency process.
While most mediation sessions are held face-to-face, in some circumstances sessions can be held over the telephone. Another option is shuttle mediation, where the people in dispute sit in separate rooms and the mediator speaks to them separately and acts as a messenger between them.
Mediation may be suitable if you:
Mediation may be unsuitable if:
Mediators can help you decide whether mediation is suitable in your situation. They can also bring the appropriate people together, provide a supportive environment and help organise a time and venue. Mediators may also discontinue mediation if they feel it is no longer appropriate to mediate.
Before mediation, you can get expert advice to prepare for the session, for example by getting legal advice on your rights and responsibilities and what alternatives are available if you do not negotiate an agreement.
If all the participants agree, mediation may also involve support people, your lawyer or other professionals.
The role of lawyers in mediation will usually depend on the type of case. For example, in disputes between individuals such as neighbours, there will be many types of issues to resolve that are not just about legal rights. In these type of cases, mediation generally works better when it is an informal process without lawyers attending or, if they do attend, just listening but not taking an active role.
For large or complicated disputes that involve mainly legal issues, it is more common to have lawyers present and involved in the mediation process, although the focus remains on the people in dispute communicating about the issues and working towards a resolution.
There are a number of options for finding a mediator suitable for your dispute. See