In mediation procedure, a neutral intermediary, the mediator, helps the parties to reach a mutually satisfactory settlement of their dispute. Any settlement is recorded in an enforceable contract. The principal characteristics of mediation are:
- Mediation is a non-binding procedure controlled by the parties. A party to a mediation cannot be forced to accept an outcome that it does not like. Unlike an arbitrator or a judge, the mediator is not a decision-maker. The mediator’s role is, rather, to assist the parties in reaching a settlement of the dispute.
- Mediation is a confidential procedure. In a mediation, the parties cannot be compelled to disclose information that they prefer to keep confidential. If, in order to promote resolution of the dispute, a party chooses to disclose confidential information or make admissions, that information cannot, under the WIPO Mediation Rules, be provided to anyone – including in subsequent court litigation or arbitration – outside the context of the mediation.
- Mediation is an interest-based procedure. In court litigation or arbitration, the outcome of a case is determined by the facts of the dispute and the applicable law. In a mediation, the parties can also be guided by their business interests. As such, the parties are free to choose an outcome that is oriented as much to the future of their business relationship as to their past conduct.
Because mediation is non-binding and confidential, it involves minimal risk for the parties and generates significant benefits. Indeed, one could say that, even when a settlement is not achieved, mediation never fails, as it causes the parties to define the facts and issues of the dispute, thus in any event preparing the ground for subsequent arbitration or court proceedings.
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