What Is Mediation?

This video was generously funded by The Law Foundation of BC and created by The Sequence Group.

Mediation existed as long as humans have been able to talk and disagree. All it takes is a dispute to break out, and if both sides are willing, an impartial person to step in and help. Nowadays the definition of mediation is a bit more specific, but the basic principle is the same.

Additional Languages: 「調解是什麼?」 | 「调解是什么?」 | تعریف میانجی‌گری | O que é mediação? | C’est quoi la médiation? | ¿Qué es la mediación?

The Mediation Process

In mediation, a mediator will facilitate a conversation between two or more people to help them resolve a dispute. Mediators are impartial and will not make decisions for you. They are trained to establish and maintain a safe, confidential, communicative process, and to help participants reach an agreement on their own. The process is informal and private, making mediation much less stressful than court proceedings. And without any costly or lengthy court time, mediation saves you more time and money. 

How to Get Started 

Normally, Mediation can be broken down into 4 steps. At any point, it's also good to be prepared and informed of your legal rights. You can find a list of resources for legal information here.  

Mediator Process

Step 1 - Find & Select a Mediator

Start by looking around. The Mediate BC directory of Registered Roster Mediators (RRMs) is typically a good place to start. Once you find one who you think is suitable, contact them and ask if mediation is right for you. If the answer is yes, discuss your needs and figure out how the process will be tailored for you and the other participant. 

Find an RRM

Step 2 - Have a Private Meeting with your Mediator

Once you and the other person/people in your conflict agree to proceed, the mediator will likely meet with each person separately in a Pre-Mediation Session to identify the interests and issues to be discussed, gather relevant information, and to confirm the suitability of mediation.

Step 3 - Participate in the Mediation Session

This is where the actual mediation happens. It could be face-to-face, in separate rooms, or online or by phone. Usually, the mediator will take notes to prepare for the next step.

Step 4 - Documentation

The mediator will help record all the agreements as clearly as possible in a Memorandum of Understanding or, if the mediator is also authorized to practice law, in a contract. The mediator might then offer advice for next steps. 


The Role of Mediate BC

In BC, anyone can call themselves a mediator and charge for their services. That means inexperienced or unqualified mediators could harm clients, damage the reputation of the mediation process, or in some cases, lead to violations of the law (particularly in separation/divorce cases). That's why Mediate BC exists. We're funded by the BC Government to overcome some of these challenges and to protect the public.

Aside from offering public education and raising awareness of conflict resolution processes in the province, we manage and host a few lists (also known as rosters) of Registered Roster Mediators (RRMs) who have met and maintain ongoing professional requirements.

More on RRM

Other forms of Mediation

Shuttle Mediation – When you can’t speak directly with the other person the mediator speak with each of you separately to try and find a resolution or to bring the conversation to the point where you can directly discuss the issues. Typically you will be in separate rooms and the mediator will go back and forth between you.

Distance or Online Mediation – When you can’t find a mediator in your area, or if it’s not feasible for you and the other party to be in the same place, mediation sessions can take place remotely. This is accomplished using web teleconferencing services, such as Zoom, MS Teams, etc. Online mediation is an effective way to resolve conflict.


How Can Mediation Help?

1. Mediation is Effective

In 2016, mediation resolved issues in over 90% of family, workplace and civil disputes in BC. Unlike going to court, mediation is private and confidential. Discussion during mediation cannot be used during a court case and the agreement to mediate is not publicized. Registered Roster Mediators (or RRMs) are trained to ensure dialogue is as effective as possible to ensure quality long-lasting solutions are reached.

2. Mediation is Affordable

Mediation is almost always significantly less expensive than going to court.

The cost of mediation varies depending on the mediator’s hourly rate, number and complexity of issues, and other costs such as travel or room bookings. The average total costs to participants of a family mediation held in 2016 by our Registered Roster Mediators was $2,700 (split between both parties). For civil or workplace mediations, the average was $1,700. Mediators set their own rates and many offer sliding scale or other accommodations based on income. The costs for mediation are typically split in half by the parties.

The average cost of a legal action including a two day trial in 2016 was $18,700 for family issues and $25,500 for civil. These costs are not typically split between the parties.

3. Mediation is Timely

Disputes are almost always resolved faster through mediation than going to court. The average duration for a civil or family mediation process in 2016 was eight weeks. The average duration of a workplace mediation process in 2016 was six weeks. Disputes can be resolved right away rather than waiting for a court date and there are fewer procedures and red tape to navigate.

4. Mediation is Accessible

Mediation is informal and there are fewer barriers than the court system. While it is recommended to get independent legal advice beforehand, no special knowledge or language is necessary. The mediator’s role is to make the conversation easier to have, not more difficult.

Professional RRMs are available in every part of the province. Online mediation is also available for situations where being in the same room together is not feasible or desirable.