What is Mediation?
Mediation is a voluntary process by which parties to a case or a dispute attempt to settle their disputes through discussions, facilitated by a neutral mediator.

Mediation involves a series of meetings between the mediator and the parties, with the endeavor of finding a resolution to the issues, which is acceptable to both or all parties. If a settlement is reached to the satisfaction of the parties at dispute, an agreement will be drawn up recording the terms of the settlement, which will be enforceable by the parties. If no resolution can be reached, the disputes can be taken to arbitration or court for a decision on the disputes through the adjudication process, viz., arbitration or proceedings in court.

Mediation is informal and depends entirely on the co-operation and willingness of the parties to the dispute to settle it. The mediator is impartial, and cannot impose any settlement on the parties. The discussions taking place in the mediation are to be kept confidential, and cannot be revealed by the mediator, or used by the other party in court if the mediation fails.

Parties can initiate mediation to resolve their disputes before or after going to court. The process can be built into the document at the agreement stage, or can be agreed to by the parties even after disputes arise.

Advantages of mediation

Mediation focuses the dispute and its resolution on the long term interests of the parties. It empowers parties to decide how their issues are to be resolved. It is a voluntary process, and more effective in terms of time and willingness of parties to abide by the mediated agreement. The mediated agreement can be the basis for a continuing commercial relationship.

Mediation is a statutorily recognized form of dispute resolution. The Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 recognizes conciliation as a method to resolve disputes and enumerates the process of conciliation.

Conciliation is similar to mediation, with the difference that in conciliation, the role of the conciliator is more evaluative. The conciliator assesses the issues in dispute and helps the parties to draw up terms under which the matter can be settled. The mediated agreement is enforceable as an agreement, while an agreement arrived at through conciliation is an award and is like a decree of court.