Mediation FAQs

What happens if it doesn't work?

It depends why it isn’t working! You will be able to talk to the mediators when they contact you – usually two weeks after the meeting with your neighbour – and you can discuss any concerns you have then. Sometimes the mediators will be able to work out with you all what isn’t working and what needs to happen to put things right. Very occasionally we may hold a second or review meeting with everyone present, where we can address any persistent problems. On the rare occasions where mediation hasn’t worked, there is usually an underlying reason for this which becomes apparent, requiring a different kind of help – if the continuation of problems are to do with alcohol or drugs, for instance. Mediators can put you in touch with the agencies that can help. Sometimes if there is no real improvement we have to refer the case back to the referring agency, who will then consider the steps they have available to them. Most agencies prefer you to have tried mediation first and will not consider other steps, such as ASBOs or eviction of tenants, unless you have.

Do I have to do mediation?

No, mediation is an entirely voluntary process and you cannot be made to do it if you really do not want to. Many people find it is a scary idea to begin with, but once they have had a chance to talk to the mediators about their fears, they are often prepared to give it a go – and are often pleasantly surprised that it turns out to be nothing like as bad as they had feared. We get a success rate of more than 85% on those cases where people do meet together in a joint.

Is mediation appropriate for any culture?

Every culture and society has some form of mediation, although it may differ in some ways from the way we carry out mediation here in the UK. All forms of mediation look for peaceful settlement of problems between people by addressing their needs and trying to find ways forward that meet these needs. Mediators are trained to be aware of and sensitive to cultural differences, and will try to find ways of meeting different cultural needs. Many problems between people are the result of cultural misunderstandings, and mediators will help people to say what is important to them and why. This helps people towards a better understanding of one another and builds communities which are able to acknowledge and respect differences between people.

If we sign an agreement is it legally binding?

No, although it can be made legally binding if lodged with a court. However, most mediation agreements are not of this kind – they are statements of goodwill and intent, of how people are going to deal with situations in the future. They tend to work because all mediation agreements are arrived at after much discussion and only contain things that people have already voluntarily agreed. The mediators check carefully to make sure that the agreements are practical, workable, and really do address the problems which brought everyone into mediation to begin with.

Do I need to have evidence against my neighbour?

No! Mediators do not attempt to establish who has done what, or who is right and wrong. Mediation is an alternative to the legal process, which can be very costly, slow and often makes the situation between neighbours much worse. There is also no guarantee if you go to court that you will get the outcome you want. The court or judge will decide, and this may or may not be in your favour – a ‘win/lose’ outcome. Mediation on the other hand works for a ‘win/win’ – where both sides can live with the outcome. The mediators will need to hear about your perspective on the situation, how it has affected you and what you would like to see change. They will do the same with your neighbours and then work with you both to agree on a way forward.

How many mediators will there be?

There will always be two mediators. Working together they are better able to fully understand your situation and to maintain an environment where everyone is free to speak and can listen to one another in the meeting with your neighbours.

When will mediation happen?

The visit to your home and the meeting with your neighbour will both take place at a time convenient to you. Our mediators work both in the day time and evenings and we aim to find a time that suits everybody.

Will the mediators decide who’s right?

No! The mediators do not take sides or make judgements about who is right or wrong. Mediation is not about assigning blame for the past but about agreeing on a way to live in the future. The mediators are there to help you find a solution to your problems and to live peacefully with your neighbour.

Can mediation solve any dispute?

Some disputes are not appropriate for mediation - particularly where there is violence or serious harassment, or where one or both parties are not willing or competent to negotiate. For some cases more formal methods, including prosecution for criminal offences, are more appropriate... However, mediation does provide a powerful new option both for those experiencing neighbour disputes, and those trying to sort them out.