Mediation is an informal process of dispute resolution but it follows and protects the very principles of natural justice that form the basis of every court hearing – equality, fairness, transparency and non-bias.
What is meant by Natural Justice?
Natural Justice is the right of a person to receive a fair, unbiased hearing and be given adequate opportunity to present a case and respond to arguments. The person deserves to know and understand the charges against him or her and should be given every chance to reply to the allegations. It requires that any administrative decision in the case should be based on logical proof and not on speculation or assumptions.
The principles of natural justice state that:
- All hearings should follow a set procedure and be fair to all people involved
- The process and outcome should be transparent
- Decisions should be made without bias, taking into account all facts and evidences presented during the hearing
- All people involved should be given equal opportunity to present their case
How does mediation uphold the principles of natural justice?
- A Fair Process
Mediation is a simple process that has a beginning a middle and an end. The process ensures that the emotions, interests and concerns of all involved are considered. The mediator provides a comfortable, non-aggressive and secure environment for people to discuss the dispute, achieve common ground and arrive at a result that is acceptable to all. The mediator does not make any decisions. Instead they help people to explore their case and identify possible resolutions. The participants in the mediation are drive the process and are in total control of the outcome.
- Adequate chance to present their views
The mediator ensures that people involved receive equal opportunity to present their side of the dispute. The mediator acts as a facilitator instead of an adjudicator or judge and makes the mediation environment conducive to dialogue and mutual collaboration. All people get adequate chance to speak for themselves and explain their perspective, legally and personally. The mediator ensures free and fair discussions to achieve a mutually satisfactory resolution.
- Unbiased Process
Mediation is voluntary, informal and non-adversarial where people involved in the mediation control the outcome. The mediator acts independently and without bias to help both sides to articulate their interests and concerns. The mediator may ask questions and initiate relevant discussions with a view to promote mutual understanding. They ensure all people in the dispute get equal chance to express themselves without facing any judgement and that both sides are receptive to arguments made by each other.
Before the joint mediation session, the mediator ensures all involved:
- have a clear understanding of the dispute from their perspective
- have sufficient awareness of the mediation process,
- understand what is expected from them and know how to communicate their interests at the joint session
- have appropriate advice from other relevant professionals.
Outwardly, mediation is a confidential and private process but, internally, it is transparent to all stakeholders. The joint mediation sessions happen in the presence of all necessary stakeholders with the authority to make a final decision. The outcome is arrived through following the mediation process with open and frank dialogue. The mediator has no role in deciding the outcome.
Mediation is a fair, flexible, cost-effective process which takes into account the emotional and material aspects of a dispute leading to permanent settlement and continuing good will, thereby upholding the very fabric of natural justice.