Prior to reading this book, I had a very simple perspective about Mediation. I saw it as a simple “sit down and talk” procedure that was faster and cost-effective. However, reading this book has exposed me to how the mediation process involves a lot of preparedness, strategy and constant evaluation by the Mediation Advocate, to ensure that his client gets the best settlement possible while taking the other side into consideration as well and the Advocate also assists in improving the mediation process.
The Mediation Advocate starts work right from examining the viability of mediation for his client’s needs, to persuading his client and the other side to agree to mediate. This involves a lot of intelligence, especially emotional intelligence, it involves critical thinking and analysis and having a clear understanding of the case at hand and the mediation process.
The Advocate further plays an important role in picking a mediator best suited for the matter, taking into consideration the nature of the dispute and special needs of the parties. In the pre-mediation process, he liaises with the mediator intelligently to show his readiness to cooperate and make the process work. He prepares the necessary documents and the parties (including witnesses and stakeholders) for what to expect during mediation.
The Mediation Advocate helps to reassure and constantly evaluate his client’s position, interests and possible terms of settlement during the mediation proceedings. He encourages his client throughout the proceedings and helps him to know when the outcome of proceedings may not be favourable. He also helps in preparing the settlement agreement.
To my surprise, other jurisdictions have begun to challenge the confidentiality privilege of mediation and some courts can now compel a mediator to even give evidence as a witness in court. Thankfully this is not the position of law or practice in Nigeria.
Overall I learned that mediation is not so simple and easy. It is emotionally, physically, mentally and intellectually tasking. Being emotionally intelligent is a big plus as a mediator and a mediation advocate. With a good and skilled Mediation Advocate, the process will improve, and more people will start to trust Mediation as a good alternative to Litigation.