Mediation is facilitated negotiation, in which barriers to communication are overcome. In a mediation process, the parties jointly try to repair a deadlock or breakdown in a business or professional relationship. The outcome may be that the parties continue their relationship, for instance because the breach of trust has been repaired. But often the parties decide to go their own way or to put an end to their relationship. The term exit mediation is used in employment cases when the employer and the employee negotiate a severance scheme that is acceptable to both parties.
The aim is to make specific agreements that are acceptable to both parties, in one or more mediation sessions. The sessions are usually preceded by intake interviews between the mediator and the individual parties. The subjects discussed during mediation are confidential and may not be used by one party against the other at a later time. This basic principle, recorded in writing at the start of the mediation, guarantees an environment in which the parties can freely exchange thoughts and make proposals.
The agreements made between the parties are recorded at the end of mediation in a settlement agreement. That agreement is binding; the parties must therefore abide by the agreements made. The mediation ends when both parties sign the settlement agreement.
The mediator plays a facilitating role as an independent third party. Respecting the parties’ autonomy, the mediator oversees the sessions and the negotiations. Ample time is set aside to discuss the conflict that has arisen, so that all the parties involved understand how the conflict arose and what interests are at stake. That is usually followed by an analysis of the options available to the parties, after which they, and possibly their legal or other advisors, negotiate on the most desirable solution. The mediator ensures that the negotiations are conducted in a constructive manner.
Jan Trap and Bas Derhaag run a busy mediation practice in addition to their work as lawyers at Vestius. They handle a wide range of disputes and conflicts, particularly employment disputes, problematic relationships between shareholders, the members of a partnership, a company’s management board and works council, or a management board and a supervisory board. Their extensive legal experience offers significant added value. Their knowledge of the law, of professional and interpersonal relationships, and of business interests allows them to bring the vast majority of the mediations supervised by them to a successful conclusion.