The mediator will open the mediation either by meeting the parties (and their legal representation, if they have one) in a joint (plenary) session or in private (caucus) sessions if tensions are running high.
The mediator will go through the agreement to mediate, explaining it to the parties before it is signed. Mediation then progresses as a round-table meeting or in private sessions. The mediator gives each party the opportunity to talk about their perspective on the dispute.
Any potential or perceived power imbalance or ‘inequality’ caused by only one party being represented, or by one party being more ‘powerful’, emotional or verbose than the other is addressed and managed in mediation.
As the mediation progresses the mediator may go on to hold a further series of confidential meetings with each side to see how the dispute can be moved on. Any progress and agreement that is reached can be set out in a mediation heads of agreement for the parties to sign or take advice upon before doing so. This document is then legally binding for both parties.