B. Role of Mediators
The mediator brings the parties together face-to-face in a private and confidential setting. Each party will have the opportunity of putting forward his point of view and listening to what the other party has to say.
Unlike an arbitrator, the mediator does not impose a decision on the parties. He does not provide legal advice and would not take sides. He will not determine who is right and who is wrong in the disputes, but merely helps to facilitate settlements. The mediator will help the parties explore the strengths and weaknesses of their cases and identify possible solutions, and help them resolve the matter between themselves. The parties concerned may terminate the mediation sessions anytime during the process. If an agreement is reached, the parties will then sign the agreement which will then be binding on the parties.
Generally speaking, mediators are required by their Ethical and Professional Code of Practice to observe confidentiality in respect of all matters disclosed in the mediation sessions. When the parties agree to take part in mediation, they will usually be required by the mediator to sign a Mediation Agreement (i.e. an agreement to mediate) which states that all negotiations undertaken pursuant to the mediation are to be privileged and conducted on a without prejudice basis. Without prejudice means that nothing discussed can be used as evidence in any future legal proceedings.
Mediation is considered to be a private and confidential process on two levels. Firstly, the mediation process must be kept confidential at all times in that no third party is allowed to be privy to the proceedings. Secondly, under no circumstance should any matters discussed by one party in private sessions with the mediator be disclosed to the other party by the mediator without permission.