Conflict can cause irreparable damage to a business and its stakeholders. However, when managed well, conflict can become the catalyst for positive change. Organisations and industries are recognising this potential and are increasingly turning to mediation as a first and often preferred port of call.

However, the absence of any legislative or compulsory standards governing mediation professionals means finding quality mediators can be problematic.

“If you’re not using an accredited mediator, you can’t be certain that they have been trained in the principles of effective mediation, or that they are covered by insurance and a complaints handling procedure. This is often to the detriment of the process.” – Bianca Keys, Chairperson – MSB

How do you find a good mediator? 

Australia’s Mediator Standards Board (MSB) provides the following suggestions for any in-house counsel looking for mediators. Look for mediators with

  1. a preliminary process (sometimes referred to as intake) that assesses process needs and suitability, as well as early identification of any conflict of interest,
  2. accountability – check that they are insured and that they have a complaints mechanism they can refer you to, and
  3. a demonstrated commitment to ongoing training and experience.

The easiest way to ensure this is to look for a mediator who is accredited under the National Mediator Accreditation System (NMAS). NMAS mediators are required to practise in accordance with the above, as well as a comprehensive set of ethical and procedural standards.

It is common for in-house counsel to find a mediator by ‘word of mouth’ referral and to develop a shortlist of trusted professionals. Take this a step further – check that they are NMAS Accredited. If you’re not sure, search the National Register at mediators

Why should in house counsel use NMAS Accredited providers?

Using NMAS Accreditation as a guide for choosing your mediator means you can expect consistent adherence to a multi- industry-backed set of standards.

  1. Competence. All NMAS mediators are trained and assessed in accordance with 
  2. Credibility. NMAS mediators commit to best practice standards, including independence and impartiality, which may assist with convincing parties to opt-in to the process.
  3. Experience. To maintain accreditation, NMAS mediators are required to meet training and practical experience requirements each accreditation period.
  4. Accountability. An established, effective complaints mechanism is in place for all NMAS mediators. Accreditation bodies can independently receive any complaints and discipline where appropriate. 
  5. Adequate professional indemnity insurance and evidence of good character are also requirements of accreditation.

Next Steps

ASK Is your mediator accredited?

CHECK Look for a National Mediator Accreditation System (NMAS) logo or check the national register at mediators

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Published on 22 Jun, 2020