Telephone mediation, self-explanatory, presumably? Well what is it? It is conducting a mediation over the telephone 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, as in 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 phone calls and or a mixture of consecutive and conference calls.
Telephone Mediation – When To Use it?
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. Typically disputes with a value of £5,000.00 or less are best suited for telephone mediation.
Having said that I have mediated disputes with values of up to £25,000.00 over the telephone and not so straight forward matters, however having been a mediator for over fourteen years I was comfortable in doing so and have the relevant experience to undertake such matters. There are always exceptions to the rules, in general, however, they are usually best suited to low value straight forward matters.
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 conduct have involved parties for a variety of reasons saying they do not wish to speak directly to the other party(s), 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 dispute is complicated, where the value in dispute is substantial, in my experience such disputes are best mediated face to face, to include those where there are several parties, again to contradict myself slightly with technological advances these days, telephone mediation can take place between several parties, but I believe are best suited to face to face sessions, other mediators may have a different opinion?!
Telephone Mediation vs Face To Face Mediation
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 and 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, and although this can be done through a conference call, it is not really the same, 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.
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…
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.