Telephone mediation, self-explanatory, presumably? Well what is it? It is conducting a mediation over the phone surely I hear you say, although that is what it is, it is not as simplistic as that.
Telephone Mediation – The Rules
A telephone mediation works exactly like a face to face mediation. The rules of confidentiality, being without prejudice, being of a confidential and voluntary nature still all need to be observed and exercised. The process itself is usually done through a series of consecutive and joint conference phone calls. In essence a mixture of both.
The mediator will conference both, all parties into he call. Deliver their opening statement and invite position statements. As in an actual mediation, at some point the parties will be spoken to separately. The mediator will at this stage, end the conference call, and have a private separate call with one of the parties. The mediator thus uses a series of separate calls, as well as conference calls, when they wish to speak to all parties.
Telephone Mediation – When To Use it?
Some argue typically, a telephone mediation is best suited for straight forward and uncomplicated matters. And for those disputes which are relatively small in terms of the financial value being claimed. Apparently disputes with a value of £15,000.00 or less are best suited for telephone mediation?
I Do Not Agree!
Having said that I have mediated disputes with values of hundreds of thousands of pounds over the telephone. Some were extremely complicated, and not so straight forward matters at all. However, having been a mediator for over eighteen years I was comfortable in doing so. Having the relevant experience to undertake such matters. There are always exceptions to the rules. In general, although, I understand those who feel they are usually best suited to low value straight forward matters. I do not agree.
Logistics, where parties are too far apart geographically, using telephone mediation is particularly helpful. As this cuts out the travel time for the parties and the mediator. As well as the expense of hiring a neutral venue, attendance costs of solicitors, and the headache of syncing of diaries. Whereby it is often easier to find a suitable time and date which all parties can arrange / make if it is to be over the telephone.
Again flexibility also is a key benefit of these types of mediation services, I have often conducted telephone mediation’s in the evening or on a weekend, this assists parties with their work commitments, not having to take time off, arranging cover, childcare etc.
Finally, several of the face to face mediation’s I have conducted; have involved parties, who for a variety of reasons, do not wish to speak directly to the other party(s). Refusing to be in the same room as them, whereby telephone mediation, is ideal for such disputes and avoids all of this.
Telephone Mediation – When Not to Use It?
Although I have slightly touched on this above, where the parties insist on a face to face mediation. Where the mediator is not comfortable in using this method. Other mediators may have a different opinion?!
There really is no difference between the two types. As they both are as effective as each other if you have a skilled mediator with the right level of experience. However, emotion can be lost in translation? In several of my face to face mediation’s, I encourage when appropriate to do so, for the parties to speak to each other direct. Although this can be done through a conference call, is it the same thing? As emotion, body language, expression’s which can assist in unlocking a dispute between the parties are all lost and cannot be seen by the mediator and or the parties. However, with online mediation, this is no longer an issue, as the parties can all see one another.
To contradict myself yet again, sometimes body language, tone and expressions are not always useful to be seen, experienced by the opposing party as they can sometimes hinder negotiations, therefore…it is actually useful in such scenarios.
Telephone Mediation – To Conclude
Part of being an effective mediator is knowing what to mediate and how. Having the skills in helping the parties to unlock a dispute and lead them towards a solution and to advise them on what particular type of mediation process to engage in.
The one which will give them the best opportunity to attempt to resolve the dispute between them, telephone mediation can be a bit of a double edged sword, but are very effective if deployed correctly.