Mediation is a form of dispute resolution that involves a neutral 3rd party facilitating a settlement of a dispute in a confidential setting. Ordinarily, parties to a dispute will gather in one location (although the parties are not forced to meet with one another if they do not wish to). However, in the current climate, mediations are taking place virtually.
Pros of virtual mediations
It means they can still continue when scheduled rather than be cancelled and hold up progress of settlement.
Costs are saved – a venue doesn’t need to be hired; parties are not required to travel and subsistence costs are not incurred.
Emotions may not be as high over a virtual mediation whereas in person tensions may escalate –particularly where the parties are acrimonious.
The technology may encourage parties to take turns to speak and not talk over one another.
Multiple participants can join.
Cons of virtual mediations
Mediators may benefit from meeting with participants in person to gauge their appetite to settle.
It might be more difficult for a mediator to ‘move’ between private sessions (those which don’t involve all participants)- this will be technology-dependent.
May be unsuitable for those with impairments if accessibility adjustments are not possible.
Technical issues could affect the experience.
Parties may not fully engage with the process because they don’t feel present.
There are certainly advantages and disadvantages with virtual mediations and with mediation generally. If you are considering mediating a dispute and want some support, contact SHU Law.