What Do You Think Makes A Good Mediator?

Author:Ms Ana Virginia Bauder
Profession:Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR)

Anyone contemplating using a commercial mediator to resolve their dispute needs to have their own confident answer to this question. Working with mediators you have used before and liked is sensible, as is asking colleagues about the mediators they have used. Yet how does a lawyer explain to their client why they recommend using a mediator beyond saying “they have a good reputation”?

Certainly, CEDR's biennial 2018 Mediator Audit tells us that most lawyers think the majority of mediators are doing a good or very good job in their mediations. What it is always useful to know more about is which are the components of a mediator that are particularly valued.

Defining the difference

The success of mediation usually depends on two factors - the preparation and willingness of the parties to take part in the process and critically the skill of mediator. As a provider of mediation services, CEDR focuses its attention on what makes a quality mediator.

CEDR provides its Training, which leads to CEDR Accreditation (which has an 80% pass rate), a 'driving licence' to say a mediator is safe 'on the road' to start mediating. The Training assesses an individual against a number of core competencies that a mediator must display to show they are proficient. However, an invitation to join CEDR's prestigious Mediator Panel is a commercial decision based on an individual's professional background and current mediation practice combined with the requirements of the marketplace.

Whenever possible CEDR takes feedback on its mediators from lawyers and clients in the 600 plus mediations it arranges every year. It allows us to ensure the quality of the mediators we keep on our panel. Furthermore, it helps CEDR to understand what clients like about mediators, as we ask the question how do you know what a good mediator looks like?

The main themes fed back from mediations

From the feedback CEDR gets we see typically similar positive points about mediators emerging from the users of our services:

We hear that it matters that the mediator really understands the issues and beyond this is sensitive to both the commercial and personal issues in the case. Alongside this is the ability of the mediator to create rapport with the parties and ensure that they are engaged in the process of finding a resolution. Characteristically we expect mediators to be highly prepared for the mediation they are about to undertake - which should be apparent to the parties - and helps the...

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