Terms and Conditions for Mediation Services
Basic Principles and Terms of Mediation
The following terms are the basis for mediation conducted by Mediators regulated by Family Mediators Council (FMC), National Family Mediators (NFM), Alternative Dispute Resolution, and or, Family Mediation Association (FMA). Please would you read each point carefully, noting any questions you may have to bring to your first meeting with a Mediator. At that meeting we shall ask you to sign this document as an indication of your commitment to the process and the terms listed.
Our role as Mediators
As Mediators we act in an impartial way. We therefore seek to help each of the participants equally. Our role is to assist you each to explore possible ways of resolving disputes or making arrangements on any range of matters related to your separation or future separate living or in any matters relating to family issues.
We may only provide legal and/or financial or other information in a neutral way in order to help you understand the options available to you. We may not, do not and cannot provide any advice (of any nature) on a ‘best interests’ or personalised basis. The choices and decisions remain yours to make. It is possible and often very helpful for you to have advice from your own solicitor or legal adviser during the mediation process in order to make informed decisions. You may also wish to liaise with your advisers as mediation progresses in order to enable them to remain informed as to progress.
We will as appropriate offer evaluation during or following mediation to inform you as to whether or not any specific way forwards identified in mediation is likely to receive the endorsement of a Court. You may ask us to offer evaluation at any stage of mediation, although there are some circumstances where our Code of Practice requires us to do so. We do not otherwise express opinions or make judgments about your individual or joint situation.
We cannot act as mediators if either of us have prior knowledge of the situation through any previous involvement as lawyer, counsellor or in any other professional role. Although we may have other qualifications, in this context we act only as mediators.
We shall do our best to help each of you. We ask you to show your integrity and commitment to the mediation process and to co-operate as fully as possible in looking for workable solutions.
What we ask you to do
We shall ask each of you to provide complete and accurate disclosure of all your financial circumstances, with supporting documents where necessary. This is called financial disclosure. We do not verify the completeness and accuracy of the information you provide but we shall ask you to sign and date a statement confirming that you have made a full disclosure. If it should emerge that full disclosure has not been made, any agreements flowing from the proposals reached in mediation based on incomplete information can be set aside and the issue re-opened.
Information about your finances and other relevant facts related to personal finance is provided on an open basis. This means that the information is available to your individual legal or financial advisers and can be referred to in Court, either in support of an application made with your joint consent or in contested proceedings. This would be the case in any situation relating to financial disclosure on separation or divorce. It will assist your individual legal adviser and avoids information having to be provided twice over or duplicated. (however, it does reinforce the importance of full and accurate disclosure as your individual legal or financial adviser is required to verify all information received.).
Discussions in the course of mediation
The discussion you have with us with regard to possible terms of settlement or proposals for the future are understood to be legally privileged. This means that your discussion about the matters you need to settle and the proposals for settlement cannot be referred to in Court unless you each agree to waive your privilege. We also ask that you each and all agree not to call either of us to give evidence in Court.
The appropriateness of mediation
We work to the Family Mediators Association’s Code of Practice at all times and will be concerned to ensure that each of you enter into the mediation process able to negotiate freely together and without risk of threat or harm. We ask you to tell us if there are concerns for you with regard to your ability to negotiate freely.
What we do for you
Because mediation is an open process between us, all information or correspondence from either of you will be shared openly with each of you. The only exception to this is an address or telephone number which either one of you wishes to keep confidential.
Produce the following documents:
At the completion or closing of the mediation process, or as appropriate during the mediation process, and as required, we shall draw up:
- A privileged summary (the Memorandum of Understanding) of your proposals for settlement which will include your proposals on all matters discussed in the mediation, arrangements for any and each child, property, finance, maintenance, child support and any other matters discussed and as appropriate to each of you. It may also include such evaluation as may be offered by us or requested by you.
- An open summary (Statement of Finances) detailing your financial circumstances (except in mediations which relate only to issues concerning children).
These documents are provided to help you obtain separate and independent legal and/or other advice before entering into a legally binding agreement. It is also to safeguard you from making a legally binding agreement without fully understanding how it may affect your own individual position.
Following the end of mediation if there is any original documentation you would like returned to you, we should be happy to arrange this upon request; otherwise all materials (including our file and case notes) will be retained for six years but may then be destroyed without further reference to you.
Mediation is a confidential process. We will not give information to your legal or other advisers or to any other third parties without obtaining your joint permission.
There are two exceptions to this confidentiality:
- The first would be where you or any other person (most particularly a child) is at risk of serious harm. In these exceptional circumstances, we would normally seek to discuss the action to be taken with each of you before taking any action to contact the appropriate authorities in line with the Family Mediators Association Code of Practice.
- The second is where we are required to make disclosure to the appropriate government authorities under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and/or the relevant money laundering regulations. We may also be under a linked obligation to make such disclosure without informing you that we are doing so. We have no choice in this matter where the Act or the Family Mediators Association 0003(c) Version 6/ 16 June 2003. iii regulations apply, and may also in these circumstances have to discontinue mediation with you without further notice.
Keep proper records:
We usually make notes during mediation. All our notes are open notes and any of the participants in mediation may have access to these at any stage. If you wish to make notes during mediation, please feel comfortable doing so, although we do ask that no sound or video recordings are made of the mediation process.
Each of you may terminate the mediation at any stage. We may also terminate the process if we do not think it appropriate or helpful to continue. If such a termination should occur on either basis, we shall do our best to provide you with information as to other appropriate ways of progressing your situation.
We charge each party on a sessional basis. Each party is required to pay separately. The fees are set and agreed prior to commencement of mediation. The fees are displayed online and in our literature. To secure a session payment is required in advance. We shall ask you to pay by credit or debit card, on our secure online payment system, over the phone or in person, and we shall then issue receipts for payments received. We charge a flat rate for the preparation of documents, per person. We shall also charge your partner/former partner at the same rate for the preparation of documents.
We are always ready to provide you with costs estimates wherever possible and practicable in order to assist your costs budgeting. When MIAM and sessional mediation appointments are cancelled at short notice – between 7 and 2 days ahead of the appointment – there is a cancellation charge of £50 + VAT. When appointments are cancelled with less than 48 hours notice the full fee will be charged. For full day Mediations – cancellation at short notice between 7-2 days notice 50% of the fee will be charged. Cancellation with 48 hours or less notice will incur the full fee.
You have been assessed as qualifying and eligible for public funding (formerly Legal Aid) for Family Mediation. That means that you will not be liable for your mediation costs. The service does not offer legally aided mediation.
We shall be charging your partner/former partner at the rate set in our terms. The total charge to your partner/former partner for each 90-minute session will therefore include your costs and your partner/former partners costs.
CONCERNS AND COMPLAINTS:
Please contact the Mediation Practice Manager, Sallie MacGowan via email; Sallie.MacGowan@novocounselling.co.uk
Your email will be responded to within 5 working days.