Mediation is used in lieu of or to replace Court proceedings, or where there is a dispute between two parties.
Usually before mediation can take place, there are pre-mediation meetings. These meetings are generally held on a one-to-one basis, and the Mediator meets with each party individually to explain the process, get a clear idea of the situation and and make sure that everyone involved is willing and able to join the mediation process. If the groups involved are going to be represented by solicitors or other professionals during the mediation, the Mediator will meet those individuals who will attend in a support capacity at this stage - union representatives, lawyers.
Where all parties have agreed to meet, a written Agreement to Mediate will be discussed and agreed between the groups and the Mediator, and it will lay out amongst other things that the mediation is confidential, that it is a voluntary process and that any party or the Mediator may leave the process at any time.
Except where a third party is paying the fees of the mediation, the Mediator and the parties should agree the amount ot be paid before the start of the mediation.