Mediation can be a daunting process even for the most confident person. The ability to have someone with you to work through a mediation can either be helpful, or more stressful. It’s important to have the right person there with you to help you achieve the goals of mediation, help keep communication open, and remain calm and objective when you are possibly feeling emotional and stressed. However, the support person needs to be the right support person for you and the outcome you want to achieve. They need to understand their role and be respectful of the mediation process. The goal of mediation, is always for both parties to find resolution with the assistance of the Mediator.

What is a support person?

A support person is someone who attends and provides support to you at a mediation. Many times attending a mediation can be overwhelming, and so a support person can listen and help you understand or explain the issues in a dispute in private and be there as moral support in the mediation. They are not an advocate for you nor do they talk on your behalf. These people can provide valuable emotional and psychological support by just having them beside you is enough to give you the confidence you need.

A support person cannot be someone who has been involved in the dispute or someone who is affected by the dispute. They also need to have the support of the other party. If they are involved, they need to be accepted by everyone including the mediator as being a positive influence of the mediation process and on the day. They will also need to sign third party confidentiality agreement before the mediation. This is one of the benefits of choosing mediation over court.

Best practice of choosing support people

It’s important to note that any support people in a mediation need to be agreed to by the other party. This keeps the mediation transparent, and ensures all parties are 100% aware of who will be there and that they don’t mind if your support person is present.

Everyone in the joint session of mediation must feel comfortable and confident to be able to have open and honest discussions in the joint session of mediation. This can be hard to fathom, but at the end of the day, we have to put on the other person’s shoes and try to identify how we would feel if there was someone extra in the room that we did not know about or trust the mediation process. The mediator also must be sure that they are providing for everyone the best environment and opportunity to resolve all matters and to move forward in work and in life.

So, if you feel the need to take in a support person to the joint session of the mediation, discuss it with the mediator before the joint session, discuss the role that the support person will play in the joint session and make sure you are not

suggesting someone that you know the other party will object to. After all you want the best possible outcome too.

What is the role of the mediator?

The mediator’s role is to manage all the different aspects of setting up a mediation and controlling the environment of a mediation on the day to ensure you and everyone feel safe and comfortable. An professional and accredited Mediator will encourage active listening between everyone and work to level the playing field. This allows the participants to control the topics to be discussed and the outcomes reached eventually leading to all parties having a satisfying and lasting outcome.

All parties and the mediator need to agree in advance of the joint session not only who will be in the room, but also on confidentiality, what each person’s role will be in the joint session. The mediator will set the ground rules for the joint session and make clear and enforce with those involved in the mediation what’s acceptable and what’s not acceptable behaviours and conduct. This includes any support person. It’s about being transparent and fair to all parties.

The end goal of mediation is to resolve disputes. Regardless of how emotional and difficult the dispute has been to this point, we believe the process of mediation and the actual mediation on the day with a mediator who is also a lawyer, is the best and most effective way to find resolution for disputes.

The new year is nearly upon us. Why not look to resolve disputes now so you can start the new year differently.

Let’s Resolve it!