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Who Should Attend Mediation?

If you are an individual involved in a civil dispute, you are always encouraged to attend the mediation in person. But what if your company/organisation is the party involved in the dispute?

If your company/organisation has an upcoming mediation, something important to think about is who should attend the mediation. Here are 3 points to consider when making this decision:

 

1) Authority

Your representative at mediation must be able to make judgment calls on behalf of the company, to negotiate and settle the matter. The goal of mediation is to resolve the dispute at hand. In order for mediation to be productive, the representative must therefore possess a sufficiently flexible mandate to negotiate with the other party, and to be able to sign off should an agreement on terms be reached.

Without sufficient authority, there will be limited room for negotiation between parties. This will likely result in a frustrating experience for everyone. Imagine if parties spent all day hammering out an agreement, only for discussions to fail because someone whose consent was needed failed to participate or cannot be located in time. Infuriating.

If for whatever reason a person whose consent is needed for settlement is unable to attend the session, he/she should be available and contactable in real-time to avoid the above scenario. This will show sincerity in wanting to resolve the matter, and reduce any allegations of not entering into mediations in good faith.

 

2) Other Key Persons

Other persons who should be present at the mediation are specific individuals (if they are key to the dispute), and experts (where technical knowledge is involved).

Even where parties are represented by counsel, the principals are still encouraged to attend the session in person. Lawyers’ involvement should not replace active participation of the principals. This way, parties can advocate for themselves. This helps ensure a thorough airing of the issues to be discussed – an essential part of the mediation process to reach a mutually acceptable and lasting settlement agreement.

 

3) Signals Sent

Finally, consider the signal which you intend to send to the other parties at the mediation. Attendance by a low level representative (even with full authority and mandate) may be read as a sign that mediation is not being taken seriously. Participation by the CEO however, will no doubt be taken as a sign of respect and a sincere attempt to settle. This might be quite relevant in Asian cultures where “face” is important.

 

Deciding on the right persons to attend mediation on behalf of a company/organisation is a nuanced and strategic consideration. Next time you decide on the organisational representatives to attend mediation, consider the points above and choose accordingly.

 


To learn more about mediation, check out our training programmes. Peacemakers is focused on delivering conflict management, negotiation, and mediation training courses to organisations, customised for their specific industries and corporate cultures. Contact us at mediate@peacemakers.sg to see how we can assist you with your training needs today.

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