A new study by the Association of South West Mediators and Bristol Law Society has revealed that many legal professionals think online mediation has been a success.
Mediation plays an increasingly important role in modern dispute resolution, helping individuals and businesses avoid more costly court actions by allowing a third-party, the mediator, to help resolve conflicts. Like every other aspect of life it has not been immune to the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic and has had to adapt.
It might not have been unreasonable to have thought that a process that involves building empathy with the parties and which can often last all day and go on late into the night would have been very difficult to move “online”.
Perhaps it is therefore surprising that the latest study by the two South West legal groups found that 72 per cent of respondents felt online mediation was as or more effective than traditional face-to-face mediation.
Incredibly 100 per cent of respondents said that online mediation was more convenient, while 91 per cent found it to be more cost-effective.
More than half agreed that online mediation meetings were easier for elderly people (54 per cent) and people with disabilities (62 per cent).
As a result of the overall findings, nearly a quarter said they would prefer to do mediations online in future, with 60 per cent saying they would use virtual meetings again but that it would depend on the circumstances of each case.
Roger Isaacs a forensic accountant and partner of Milsted Langdon LLP, who is also a mediator and expert witness with considerable experience in giving evidence virtually said: “The concept of conducting mediations on line would have been very unlikely ever to have been tested had it not been for the necessities of the past few months.
“As it is, the experience has been much more positive that many might have predicted with almost a quarter in favour of conducting more online meetings in future and a further 60 per cent agreeing that they may prove useful post-COVID-19. Online mediation may therefore be a lasting legacy of the Lockdown.”
“From a personal standpoint, I have been pleasantly surprised by the flexibility and convenience of online meetings and look forward to doing more of them.” he added