Mediation is a confidential process for resolving and settling civil disputes between parties. An independent and neutral mediator conducts the mediation in a setting where parties can participate in the decision-making process and help come up with a resolution to the dispute.
Mediation avoids lengthy and expensive litigation through the trial of civil matters in the courts. The Supreme Court of Victoria supports and encourages mediation.
In the Court, judicial mediations are conducted by associate judges (and judicial registrars) at their discretion, upon referral by Supreme Court judges or legal practitioners.
How does mediation work?
A mediator brings parties together in a private and confidential setting. They inform the mediator of their objectives, and the mediator helps them reach a mutually satisfactory outcome. An order resulting from a mediation is tailored to the circumstances of the dispute.
A mediator cannot impose a decision on parties. Rather, as skilled negotiators, they help parties explore issues, negotiate, and reach agreement.
The Supreme Court may, at any stage of a proceeding, order parties to undergo mediation. Similarly, parties may ask the Court, at any stage of a proceeding, to refer them to a mediator. Refer to rule 50.07, chapter I, of the Supreme Court Rules for more information.
Some contracts have a mediation clause, which directs parties to try to resolve a dispute by mediation prior to issuing proceedings in a court.
Fees for mediation
The cost of mediation is shared by the parties. You should seek legal advice about the cost of mediation and other alternative dispute resolution options. Outcomes achieved through mediation are usually less expensive and resolved faster than if the matter were to go to trial.
Where to find a mediator
The Victorian Bar maintains a list of accredited mediators as part of its Dispute Resolution Scheme. The barristers listed are professionally trained in the skills required of a mediator and in accordance with the Mediator Standards Board.
Law Institute of Victoria Mediation Service
The Law Institute of Victoria Mediators Directory provides details of approved legal practitioners qualified to conduct mediations. Mediators can be found according to their areas of practice or specialisation along with their contact details.
Resolution Institute (incorporating the Institute of Arbitrators and Mediators, LEADR and LEADR & IAMA) can provide experienced mediators across many commercial areas and professional disciplines. Parties can select from the panel of accredited mediators or can ask the Institute to nominate a suitable mediator.