The mediation process has four stages.
Individual stages of mediation necessarily go in order (some activities run through the entire process), but mediation should always be adapted to the nature of the dispute, the agreement and wishes of the parties. A mediator should be able to improvise and not blindly follow the individual stages.
1. JOINT INTRODUCTORY MEETING
Good start of a mediation proceeding is a guarantee that the participants will establish better trust and is a precondition of the success of mediation. So the first stage of mediation, a joint introductory meeting, is of great importance for the process. Foreword of a mediator is primarily intended to familiarize parties with the proceeding, to explain the characteristics of the process and the role that a mediator has in it.
In the research stage, a mediator collects all the information that is essential and necessary to identify the problem, as well as conflict points and interests of the parties. For this stage separate meetings are important. The role of a mediator must always be such that the parties themselves objectively assess their contentious relationship, because the negotiations should not be replaced by rivalry. A mediator encourages parties to overcome obstacles and reach their own conclusions and agreements, and is careful not to give opinion on the dispute or the possible outcome.
After completion of the research stage, follows one of the most important and most complex stages, which is the negotiation stage. During this stage a mediator once again identifies interests of parties, explores possible options in order to find one that is most appropriate to meet the interests of both sides and at the end encourages the parties to submit proposals of possible solutions or agreements that would satisfy their interests.
4. AGREEMENT OR SUSPENSION
Mediation is successful when parties on separate or joint meetings resolve contentious relationship and reach the agreement in whole, or in part. Then a mediator convenes final joint meeting. Before that, a mediator writes proposal, conclusion and agreement of parties, asking them if there are any other open issues. He/she assists parties on the details of the agreement. After that, a mediator congratulates parties on the reached agreement.
When mediation is not completed successfully by reaching the agreement, a proceeding is suspended.
If parties were previously referred to mediation from court proceedings, and mediation wasn’t helpful in reaching the agreement, the case then returns to court.
Verbal agreement between parties should be written and that can be done either by parties or a mediator, or even parties’ trustees. Mediation is finalized in the form of the signed court settlement, and in the form of notary record if there is a notary.
Agreement may be principled, it may be detailed, and also imprecise, conditional, or unconditional. Agreement shall be binding upon and written in a manner and language that the parties can understand. In the case of ignorant parties, the text must be clear and understandable and may require additional information, in order to avoid excuses of a party not being clear what the agreement stands for. Mediator must warn the parties that the agreement has the force of final court decision, but also that like any other court settlement it can be undone if there are legal requirements.
Before parties sign the agreement, a mediator should read it and ask parties whether they understand it, and whether it reflects their will. Ultimately a mediator alerts parties about the already set out legal consequences of the agreement.