Classification of Mediation

The Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) has different forms. Mediation is one of these and it is a dialogue process designed to capture the parties’ insights, imagination, and ideas and facilitate the dialogue to come to a solution of the dispute. Alternatively, the conflict may be resolved by one disputant choosing to abandon the claim or, alternatively, by his or her opponent’s choice to allow it.

There is considerable debate in the field of conflict resolution about these different approaches and styles of mediation and different approaches which can be applied to resolve disputes in the context of mediation. There are three general types of mediation approaches: (a) facilitative or ‘interest-based’ mediation, (b) evaluative mediation, and (c) rights-based mediation.
The Facilitative meditation (Interest based) assists disputing parties to evaluate their own situation and to let them mutually make their own decisions. The method provides only process assistance for negotiation and using Interest-based approaches. Evaluative mediation provides suggestions or recommendations. The classic role of the Evaluative Mediation is to make decisions and give opinions with respect to the merits and likely outcomes of disputes, using predetermined criteria to evaluate evidence and arguments presented by adverse parties. In the case of Right-based mediation, the procedure includes finding facts by properly weighing evidence, judging credibility and allocating the burden of proof, determining and applying relevant law, rules or customs and rendering an opinion.

The Interest based is based on two guiding principles: firstly, that of self-determination of the parties with respect to resolution of their disputes and, secondly, that of the neutral third party facilitator who facilitates communication among the parties, promotes understanding of the issues, focuses the parties on their interests and seeks creative problem-solving, including creative solutions outside the legal normative box, in order to enable the parties to reach their own agreements and resolutions to their problems.

The method focuses on the negotiation, help them in identifying the issues, finding common underlying interests, and formulating proposals to resolve the dispute. It does not provide assessments or predictions. This approach emphasizes on the underlying needs or interests of the parties and encourages a broader range of solutions or resolutions to the dispute which address the underlying interests, business or otherwise, of the parties instead of, or in addition to, legal interests. The method while exploring parties’ interests, the problem to be solved takes on new dimensions. The parties at an impasse may discover several possible solutions to their problem, and may also discover shared compatible interests.

The process encourages the disputants to assess their own position. By encouraging the parties to explore underlying interests, which are the needs that motivate any legal position taken, they are in effect defining the real problem. The Mediator focuses on mutuality and satisfaction for both sides because their aim is to reveal both “stated demand” as well as “interests,” the underlying issues and feelings which may otherwise remain unexpressed or concealed in a particular dispute.

The mediator who facilitates assumes that the parties are intelligent, able to work with their counterparts, and capable of understanding their situations better than the mediator and, perhaps, better than their lawyers. Thus, the facilitative mediation assumes that his principal mission is to clarify and to enhance communication between the parties in order to help them decide what to do.

Evaluative mediation is a process which may include an assessment by the mediator of the strengths and weaknesses of the parties’ cases and a prediction of the likely outcome of the case on the basis of law and rule of the country. An evaluative mediator evaluates the dispute based on his or her professional knowledge and experience but allowing the parties to use this expert knowledge during mediation. An evaluative mediator provides the parties with information regarding the strengths and weaknesses of their positions and may predict likely court outcomes in case of legal battle. The evaluative process draws on law, industry practice, culture and norm, and other authoritative guidelines to provide direction to the participants on appropriate grounds for a settlement. It can have a strong impact since it is coming from the mediator. The knowledge of Mediator regarding related law and understanding of the case has an impact on the outcome. The experience, training of Mediator plays a role in the outcome of the process.

Instead of focusing primarily on the underlying interests of the parties involved, evaluative Mediators may be more likely to help parties assess the legal merits of their arguments and make fairness determinations. Neutral evaluation is a reasonable service that parties may want to attain. She may only to help the parties explore the law related to the case, as argued by the parties.

Evaluative Mediation is most often used in court-mandated mediation. The goals of such mandatory mediation are best achieved, and the parties know what to expect by the court. It is a process where a third party would offer an evaluation of the legal merits of a dispute. A ‘rights-based’ approach focuses on the legal rights of the parties and attempts to achieve a resolution which meets the relevant legal criteria of the dispute in a manner that is consistent with resolutions achieved in a traditional court setting. Different legal rights are more pertinent since conflict results in human rights violations, and human rights violations can result in conflict.

A conflict resolution method that focuses primarily on standards or established rules is called a “rights-based” procedure. A method that focuses primarily on standards or established rules is called a “rights-based” procedure. This approach focuses on the legal rights of the parties and attempts to achieve a resolution that meets the relevant legal criteria of the dispute in a manner that is consistent with what would be achieved in a court setting. This will often lead to a process whereby a third party would encourage the parties to evaluate or even offer an evaluation of the legal merits of the dispute.

When people in conflict choose to rely on standards or “rights,” they commonly do so because it may seem either sensible and/or more persuasive to them take as a benchmark which has some legitimacy outside of their own dispute. Some of these “rights” go beyond common practice and are formalized in law, policies, or contracts. Other rights are closer to what we might consider “norms,” socially accepted standards of behavior within a particular culture for such concepts as “reciprocity,” “precedent,” “ethics” and “fairness.”

Sometimes rights are unclear. Usually, the lack of clarity is because there are different—and somewhat contradictory—standards that might apply and that might be appealing to only one of the disputants. Reaching an understanding on rights, where the outcome will determine who gets what can, therefore, often be difficult, leading the parties to turn to a third party to help them determine whose position has more merit.

The right-based procedures involve a third party adjudication. A third party (judge) has the power to adjudicate and hand down a binding decision and mediation is a third party manages the agreement-seeking process and may provide general information about applicable standards, but does not have the power to decide on the content of the agreement.

The rights-based mediation processes are similar to adjudicative processes such as non-binding arbitration. In non-binding arbitration, the disputing parties put their case before an impartial third party who renders an opinion or recommendation, which the parties may choose to accept or not. Thus, the process is adjudicative, or determinative but not binding or enforceable. When disputants adopt an interests-based approach, they do so with the understanding that their objective is a solution that satisfies all concerned. This method focuses primarily on the needs and concerns of the parties in conflict are called an “interest-based” procedure.

1 Comment on Classification of Mediation

Dear Mohammad,

thank you for your time and thoughts. It is truly helpful how you classify mediation and show us your understanding of how to use the different styles. I believe that in the practical field, it is up to the mediator’s ability to professionally handle the session and to sensitively select one of your concepts. More often than not, I guess it might be necessary to combine the styles and / or to switch from one to the other concept. Flexibility and capability of the mediator to ‘play around’ with the professional competencies will smoothen the procedure of mediation.

Being aware of the three styles, it might call our attention to classify the conflict management styles that we witness in the daily news: North and South Korea, Mainland China and Taiwan, … Are we able to classify international conflicts in general? Is it truly that easy?

Best regards, Daniel Erdmann

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