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Is Judicial Mediation Worth The Time?

Posted: Friday, 4 January 2019 @ 13:43

Recently I was acting on an employment law case which went to judicial mediation.(This is where an Employment Tribunal Judge acts a mediator(rather than a judge) on a Tribunal case.

After the case was settled the opposing lawyer and I spoke about the case in passing and she said that she that the case could have been settled without mediation e.g the lawyers could have negotiated it themselves.

Generally, on the one hand she has a point, lawyers themselves can negotiate a case directly without the need for external input.

However, mediation does have some overwhelming benefits even if the mediator is not great. (A great mediator will often be the difference between a complex case settling or not, but not necessarily more).

The benefits of mediation(including judicial mediation where the judges are not necessarily totally experienced with the process) rather than relying on your lawyer to settle without external input are:

The actual process of setting aside a day and paying your representatives to mediate forces parties to think about the case(maybe for the first time) in terms of resolving the case rather than trying to tear bits out of each other. 

Non lawyers including Claimants and Respondents can be more engaged in the process than they usually are outside mediation.

The Claimant and Respondent get a feel for the exercise in going to Court via judicial mediation; It is not pleasant to attend Tribunal/be near the other side and encourages the parties more to settle.

Even if the mediation folds, much use has come from the process. Often cases settle after a "failed" mediation.

A judicial mediator adds gravitas to the process and can probe strengths and weaknesses of cases better than perhaps another mediator.

A judicial mediator will be less expensive than an external mediator - The fee is paid by the Respondent and at time of writing is £600..