Impact of COVID-19 on Mediation
1. Introduction
In general, the introductory remarks in a paper’s introduction have a clear and analytical purpose: to establish the paper’s relevance to the study of politics. These introductory remarks aim to ensure that the focus of the study of politics is centered on what politics is really about – the process by which political outcomes are arrived at in society. To this end, I build a case for the relevance of analyzing mediation as a social and political process that helps to inform how certain political outcomes are realized. I ground this relevance in the recent disruptions to modern social and political life caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The spread of the coronavirus and the subsequent policy and behavioral responses have affected virtually all aspects of life, from family relations, healthcare, and socialization to global economic and political relations. The field of mediation, as well as the broader legal field and court systems, have not been immune to these effects. Especially the heavily human-focused practices such as mediation have had to rapidly adapt to the new reality in order to continue to provide effective service in a time of extremely elevated need for access to legal solutions. As elsewhere, researchers do not yet understand the full scope of impacts that the period of COVID-related social and governmental changes have had and will have on the processes and outcomes of mediation. This broad intellectual and practical interest speaks to the importance of analyzing the impacts of political and societal disruptions such as the COVID-19 pandemic on the use and effectiveness of mediation processes. However, I argue that the study of mediation itself – its internal processes and the variables that it introduces into the larger outcomes-based legal processes – is an incredibly valuable way to develop and test empirical models of political action and dispute resolution. The specific type of mediation that is to be studied in the research project, “court-appointed civil mediation,” is a process whereby disputants over a civil case work with a neutral third party to come to a mutually agreeable solution to their case, without the time and expense of a full trial before a judge. This process is heavily steeped in specialists’ practices and norms, yet relatively little academic study of it exists. Broadly speaking, specialists, professors, and policy-makers are in need of deeper understandings and systematic models of what factors, both internal and external to mediation itself, push disputants toward one type of solution or another. It is my hope that a really well-founded academic presentation of the effects that a specific kind of disruption has on the various processes and outcomes of mediation will serve to ground and focus future research in the field. As a general matter, the rise of empirical political science and policy studies as an important force in legal scholarship opens doors for the kind of discipline-specific, yet interdisciplinary, study that I propose in this project. However, the specifics of the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 and its times of social and legal unrest present a unique opportunity to develop and test robust theories about the effects of historically significant social disruptions on the functioning of legal and political processes. My goal in this paper and in the larger research project of which it is a part is to describe the vision and plans for data gathering and analysis, as well as to provide a solid rationale for the importance of the study itself. In the following sections, I will work to connect specific social and political changes wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic to potential avenues of impact on the mediation processes and outcomes, and the larger studies of political science’s empirical methodology to the analysis of that type of specialty legal practice in the current day.
1.1. Background of COVID-19
The Covid-19 virus, better known as the “coronavirus,” is an ongoing pandemic. It was first discovered in December 2019 in China before spreading to the rest of the world. As of the time of writing, the virus is still actively circulating and has caused the deaths of millions of people. Symptoms of the virus include fever, cough, shortness of breath, and difficulty breathing. There are currently no specific vaccines or treatments for Covid-19, and the only means of prevention include social distancing and wearing facemasks. The pandemic has caused huge disruptions to daily life globally. For example, many places of work, schools, and public venues have been forced to close while restaurants and shops have had to limit customer numbers or close altogether. These large-scale societal changes are likely to have some form of impact on dispute resolution through mediation initiatives. Thanks to advancements in the availability and security of technology over the past decade, online mediation has become a viable option for many mediators and their clients. However, it is important to note that the digitalization of the process could lead to greater motion tracking and surveillance of the process compared to face-to-face mediation, especially in terms of gathering and analyzing metadata. This could therefore present greater privacy and secrecy issues, which are both important principles of the mediation process as laid down in section 10 of the 2012 Jackson Codes of Practice. Similarly, attention is also required in terms of geographical constraints – the potential limitation of mediation to a specific territory. This is primarily because the scope for ‘victimization’ and excessive power dynamics can present themselves where a party is actively obstructing the facilitatory process. However, this is also something that in-person mediation can be vulnerable to in the guise of physical and possibly imposing body language from a party. These are the kinds of questions that legal professionals and academics will have to address in the wake of the normalization of virtual mediations due to exceptional circumstances such as the ongoing pandemic.
1.2. Definition of Mediation
Mediation refers to the process in which two parties meet in order to resolve their disputes. A third person, known as the mediator, guides this process. It is a well-established process in countries like the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom. The essential feature of mediation is that it is based on the principle of self-determination; a decision cannot be imposed on the parties, unlike in conciliation or arbitration. If a mediated agreement is breached, a party is likely to bring an action for breach of contract but may also include a claim for negligence on the part of the mediator himself. However, it is very difficult to establish negligence because there is no formal qualification required in order to become a mediator. One of the potential problems of using mediation is that even if a settlement has been reached, the terms of such settlement are not final until the parties have entered into a formal agreement which reflects its terms. Therefore, if one of the parties was to die in between the time of the settlement and the time of formalizing the agreement, the mediated settlement will have no effect and the dispute will have to be resolved by the court or abandoned. However, as it stands at the moment, mediation has far more impact on the court rather than arbitration. This is because even if an agreement is not reached during the mediation, the process may have narrowed down the issues in the litigation. It is stated by Lord Woolf that “courts should be astute to further the overriding objective where parties have indicated they will mediate or where it is clear that mediation would be the appropriate method of resolution.” This is proved by the leading case of Dunnett v Railtrack. Lady Justice Arden held that the claimant’s costs in court proceedings, although it was settled in a form of mediation, were limited to what she would have recovered on a standard basis.
1.3. Importance of Studying Impact on Mediation
Why is it important to study the impact of COVID-19 on mediation? When two parties enter a session with a mediator, there are certain assumptions they make about the process. They expect a relatively peaceful session without much interruption. The pandemic has rendered these assumptions inaccurate. It could be argued that immediately, the impact is visibly obvious. The government has had to take very quick action in various areas. This has led to swift changes – for example, the use of video links in court hearings, which previously had been very limited. I believe that the impact will go much further than just the simple requirement to use technology, as existing disputes still need to be resolved. I suggest that the pandemic has had and will continue to have a significant effect on mediation. It is important to find out in more detail what impact the virus has had and what changes may occur in the future. This will lead to better understanding of how the outbreak has affected dispute resolution as a whole – if the way in which people traditionally resolve disputes is changing, this could have profound effects on many aspects of civil justice in the future. It is equally important to appreciate that the impact will vary depending on the nature of the case. For example, research is yet to determine whether parties who are involved in personal injury cases may be hindered by having to conduct their sessions in a virtual environment. There is much to explore but the question initially is how has mediation practice had to adapt? As private practice mediators see an increase in people seeking help with disputes, many individuals are becoming more aware of the benefits of mediation as a viable method of settling a legal dispute. With recent and ongoing changes in the law and a shift in the legal landscape which has seen the increase in usage of remote mediation and arbitration, for example, in private family law cases, there is a suggestion that the ability and adaptability of mediation as an alternative dispute resolution method should not be underestimated.
2. Changes in Mediation Practices
The pandemic has led to numerous shifts in the way that disputes are being resolved globally. For example, with the global recognition of online dispute resolution methods, it may be that parties are more likely to mediate online in the future than they were before the pandemic. The biggest change that has been noticed in mediation practices relates to the “type of resolution” being used. As per a survey carried out in July, it has been reported that some people may be moving away from litigation and arbitration and more towards mediation, which is reflected in the fact that 93% of mediators reported that they used face-to-face mediation before the pandemic, whereas 82% were forced to shift to online mediation during the pandemic.
All countries have gone through an unprecedented epidemiological situation in the last year. With the World Health Organization officially declaring COVID-19 a pandemic in March, the situation has become widespread. The COVID-19 pandemic and the related social distancing measures have brought about various changes in mediation practices all over the world. In general, mediation, which is a process in which a third person helps the parties in dispute to sort out their differences, has also undergone a sea change in its modus operandi from physical presence to the virtual form. Even though mediation has been effectively conducted online for some time now, the pandemic seemed to have accelerated this shift.
Changes in mediation practices
2.1. Shift to Online Mediation
Many mediators have had to shift their practice online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This has necessitated a change in the way mediators facilitate discussions, with many now using video conferencing platforms such as Zoom and Skype to conduct joint meetings and private caucuses. This shift to online mediation has raised important questions around the viability and impact of virtual practice on the mediation process and outcomes. For example, it has been suggested that online mediation might lead to a higher rate of impasse since mediators are no longer able to pick up on non-verbal cues or build rapport in the same way as they can in person. Mediators Tiana and Mohtara suggest that “it is difficult to read the ‘mood’ of the mediation virtually, and this could be another barrier”. Additionally, it is commonly agreed that “the tactile nature of face to face mediation cannot be matched virtually”. It is also important to consider the impact of the shift to online mediation on parties. Research indicates that the majority of mediations already end in settlement-figures range from 80% to 89.3%, with many suggesting that online mediation may be more likely to improve these figures. However, as mediator and lawyer David Paul remarks, “the clients have to be more co-operative… the mediator can’t control the situation as you might be able to do in face to face mediation”. As well as this, worries around privacy and confidentiality may impact the effectiveness of online mediation. Sophie, a professional working in human resources, states: “in times of emotional distress and conflict, people are more subdued and cooperative in person… they feel more secure that way due to confidentiality and fear that whatever is said may be recorded”. Therefore, the increased potential for technological breaches of privacy and the impersonal nature of online communications may mean that, to some degree, the has not yet reached its fullest expression in terms of effectiveness. This means that the advantages of speed and accessibility associated with online mediation must be carefully balanced against the potentially reduced autonomy and outcome satisfaction of parties.
2.2. Challenges and Benefits of Online Mediation
The sudden pivot to online mediation has posed several challenges but also presented several benefits. Firstly, the process of online mediation can seem less formal and this might make it difficult for parties to take it as seriously as an in-person mediation. Online mediation can make the mediation process seem more isolated because the physical presence of everyone in the same place is a powerful symbol that parties and their lawyers are there to do business – like when a case settles on the steps of the court on the day of a trial. Also, the lack of formality in online mediation might lead to more breaches of good behavior, for example, interrupting whilst someone else is speaking. However, online mediation has become increasingly popular over recent years due to the significant benefits that it presents. Accessibility is key and mediation online can take place from all over the world, making the geographical location of the mediator and the parties less of an issue. Also, the ease of booking an online mediation slot can be a significant advantage, as mediators can often have pretty full calendars. However, online mediation is still in many ways in its infancy and as momentum builds, it is likely that there will be increasing attempts by opponents to technologically sabotage the process; leading to the potential for unscrupulous individuals to disturb or destroy the opportunity to mediate. For example, by hacking into the online mediation itself, or attempting to launch a cybersecurity attack on the host or any one of the mediators. The rise in online mediation has also been accompanied by a rise in the development of technology specifically for use in mediation. For instance, there are various platforms such as ‘MODRON’ and ‘Immediation’ that have specialized in creating ways in which you can mediate in a virtual environment. Such platforms are often user-friendly and allow for the easy upload of documents to a communal file where both parties and the mediator can view and discuss them. Secondly, these platforms often have provision for parties to pay online at the end of a mediation – an example of the technology not only aiding the mediation itself, but the logistics of proceedings thereafter. Platforms like these may well support the argument that mediation is evolving and adapting to modern life, including our reliance on and trust in digital technology. Also, another advantage of online mediation in using such a platform is that the mediator can create different virtual ‘rooms’ in which the main parties and the mediator can go with or without the other parties present. This could help facilitate ‘caucusing’. This is where the mediator speaks to the parties separately – a common feature of mediation when emotions can run high and a pragmatic approach to breaking down barriers might include speaking confidentially to parties who are more receptive without the presence of the other side.
2.3. Impact on Confidentiality in Mediation
In the area of confidentiality, the pandemic restrictions have made it difficult for parties and mediators to hold private meetings. It is common practice for mediators to speak to individual parties separately as well as with all parties together. Family mediators will often employ a practice known as “shuttle mediation,” where the parties are placed in separate rooms and the mediator moves between the two. Such meetings can be difficult to arrange because of the COVID-19 related restrictions. However, it is not impossible to have private meetings in person. Extra space can sometimes be utilized, bringing portable screens and using masks to facilitate discussions. There will be some instances where virtual video meetings are not suitable. Where private meetings in person can take place, mediators should give careful consideration to when it is appropriate to offer a virtual mediation. The current preference for virtual mediations rather than face-to-face mediations serves as a reminder that mediation must keep pace with the ever-increasing role of technology. However, those who study mediation recognize that the early stages of mediation, including the establishment of trust between the parties and the mediator and the process of coming to understand fully the issues that need to be resolved, cannot always be easily achieved by way of video conferencing. This is not least because the mediator may feel that it is vital to the dialogue to have the parties present in the same meeting room. Technology will continue to advance and confidence in using different platforms and software should also grow in both mediators and parties. Further steps to harness technology should not be seen as a way of trying to assert some form of power or authority in overruling the concerns of parties who may not be comfortable with a particular technological approach. Rather, any changes or proposals for new methods should emphasize the potential benefit to the mediation as a whole and also reassure those who may not be “tech-savvy” that every measure will be taken to maintain the effective delivery of mediation in line with the current best practices.
2.4. Technological Tools for Virtual Mediation
Advancing technology offers new tools that can enhance the mediation experience. Virtual platforms that offer screen sharing, breakout rooms, and private messaging allow for more dynamic and flexible communication. The chat function, which allows participants and mediators to privately message one another, can mimic caucusing in litigation. This allows the mediator to meet with each party separately from the other as a means of moving the parties closer to resolution; a significant feature in a virtual setting where physical location is less important than in a traditional mediation. Programs such as Zoom offer screen sharing and breakout room options to participants and mediators. This can be especially useful in situations where the mediator has materials or documents that they would typically share in a physical setting and if separated caucus rooms are requested by the parties. These technological advantages address some of the concerns that many professionals have regarding virtual mediation. For instance, the ability to assist technologically challenged participants in the use of such programs addresses one of the biggest concerns for many professionals. Also, these technological abilities to simulate private conversations and document sharing address the uncertainty over everything being typed being subject to discovery that Allison Hussey, a partner at King Spry Law Firm, cites as a concern for online mediation. Overall, the growing trend to employ virtual technologies and advanced programs redefines the traditional in-person model of mediation. It challenges both new practitioners and seasoned professionals to adapt their practice styles and embrace the potential advantages that technology may offer. By focusing on finding the right technology that suits the case and by learning to navigate the intricacies of a virtual setting, this new age of mediation has the potential to dramatically increase the ways in which clients can customize their experience.
3. Impact on Mediation Outcomes
There is a consensus amongst mediation practitioners and scholars that the pandemic has introduced a significant degree of chaos in the mediation industry. Mediators and parties have reported facing several obstacles in trying to adapt to the new normal. From the sudden need to shift physical mediations to a virtual space, to dealing with technological difficulties and the impact of the pandemic on the emotional well-being of parties, there have been huge hindrances on mediation practices. While mediation has traditionally been conducted in-person, most mediators and parties were forced into virtual mediations. As a result of the imposed social distance and isolation, parties and mediators have had to become accustomed to their newly regulated behaviors and communication methods. However, knowing that these parties are having to adapt to a new medium, mediators should be aware that emotions should run high during the sessions. An interim study conducted by the Civil Mediation Council and the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution showed that 75 percent of mediators and 71 percent of parties said that the pandemic has had a significant or very significant impact on their mediation. While mediation had been moving slowly towards the use of digital methods for some time now, the distancing which has had to be adopted quickly due to the pandemic has raised several implications for the future. It has also raised questions as to what extent the pandemic has led to a significant impact on the settlement rates of various disputes. However, research on whether parties are reaching settlements during virtual mediation is quite scarce. Adaptation skills have had to be learned quickly. It has proved to be immeasurably helpful for mediators to be able to work with a complaint and identify how COVID restrictions are affecting activities and functions which are being complained about. However, it raises a bigger question: in the future, post-pandemic, how will this digital acceleration affect mediation practices? When there will be more freedom to choose how the mediation will be conducted – apparently, the standard way or using a digital system – whether limitations for not conducting in a digital way will be present in regulations?
3.1. Disruption of Mediation Process
The disruption of the mediation process due to the pandemic is the first main outcome examined. Mediation, in its traditional form, requires a physical meeting. The mediator will usually sit in a separate room and the parties will move between the mediator’s room and each other’s room throughout the day, in the hope of reaching some sort of agreement. This type of mediation is known as ‘caucus mediation’ and it is widely used in England and Wales. The mediator can control the movements of each party and can coordinate who is in each room at any one time, allowing for confidential one-to-one meetings with the mediator in each room. However, the pandemic has resulted in this form of mediation no longer being possible. This is because government guidance advises against all non-essential face-to-face meetings and the majority of mediators have stopped offering in-person mediation services. Instead, a pivot has been made to in-court mediations and remote video mediation via such methods as Zoom or Skype. This allows the mediator to still control the movements of each party and it is possible to facilitate a form of caucus mediation, but virtual mediation poses a number of problems. For example, how can the mediator ensure that no one else is in the room with each party when confidentiality is an essential aspect of mediation? How does the mediator control the volume of any family members or representatives providing advice to a party during negotiations when the mediator is speaking to a party in another virtual ‘room’? Predominantly, the move to remote mediation has increased the use of another form of mediation known as ‘shuttle mediation’ whereby the mediator travels back and forth between each party’s room, thus avoiding the need for the parties to be in the same room. However, this form of mediation is likely to be far more time-consuming, expensive, and ultimately less effective due to the lack of interaction between parties. As such, it is reasoned that COVID-19 has significantly disrupted the mediation process.
3.2. Influence on Settlement Rates
Continuing from the previous section, another significant issue in the process of mediation which deserves academic investigations and research is to study the influence of COVID-19 on the settlement rates of the mediation. According to findings and surveys on the development of online dispute resolution during the COVID-19 pandemic from Mr. Hettinger, around 50% of the total disputes which underwent online ADR processes in 2020 were settled, in comparison to the lower settlement rate of around 25% in 2019. He predicted that in the future, the number of disputes resolved by the online ADR processes may continue to increase given the development of society and the implementation of social distance and remote working orders. Such investigation of the impact of COVID-19, social distancing, and the necessary step of shifting towards the virtual platforms could be one of the rationales for the recent proposal of amending the State Laws in the US, in which electronic signature, electronic notice, and electronic records will be made enforceable for transactions. If the proposal can be passed, this change in legislation will facilitate further the technological supported dispute resolution, including mediation, and it will be interesting to further discover how this phenomenon will affect the settlement rates in different types of disputes which could be mediated both online and in person.
3.3. Role of Emotions in Virtual Mediation
Emotions play a crucial role in face-to-face mediation. Mediators sometimes intentionally shift the emotions of the parties to help reach a settlement, such as when they want to start with defusing the negative emotions and then move to the positive feelings. In virtual mediation, reading and shifting emotions could be much more challenging. This is because most of the time the screen only shows the parties’ upper bodies, meaning that the mediator is unable to observe the change of body language or leg movement that usually indicates the party’s emotional status. Moreover, the pixels of the screen might not be good enough for the mediator to read micro expressions on the party’s faces as well. Thus, it is very hard if the mediator wants to make a diagnosis of the parties’ emotional status merely from the visual information from the cameras, which could directly reduce the effectiveness of any emotional shifting techniques. In practice, when we talk about emotions that show on the screen, we are mostly referring to facial expressions. However, Kruger claimed that there are differences between the emotions that show on the face and the emotions that show by body language. On one hand, there are some literatures emphasizing that the social distance has a great impact on the effectiveness of emotional shifting – a closer social distance means a higher chance of a successful emotional shifting. However, different from face-to-face mediation, the social distance in virtual mediation is constantly fixed, which means that the emotional shift based on the social distance between the mediator and the parties is not possible. On the other hand, Kilgour observed that spontaneous emotions have a greater effect on negotiation than false emotions. It is an interesting question whether people tend to be more truthful in showing their emotions during a virtual mediation when they know that no one could really observe their body language, and this might lead to a greater chance of a successful emotional shifting.
3.4. Implications for Mediator Skills and Techniques
The pandemic has forced many mediators to transition from a traditional face-to-face mediation to an online platform. The advantages of online mediation over in-person mediation were not lost on Professor Waldman who has made the switch to solely conducting his mediations online since the beginning of the pandemic. He believes that “online mediation can actually be more private than a traditional mediation. When you’re in a mediation centre and you’re sent to a room with a mediator, I think most clients probably know that the other person is going to be sent to the same room”. In other words, people often fear encountering the other party on the way to the room or during the session in an in-person mediation. However, in a virtual setting, the risk of encountering the other party before the mediation starts is eliminated because a mediator can separate the parties in a way that is not possible in-person. Therefore, the pandemic has paved the way for technological advancements in the delivery of mediation services, which has led to “an increasing interest and enthusiasm about designing online dispute resolution systems” as observed by Mr. Nadler. Nonetheless, certain particular mediation skills have fallen by the wayside due to the containment of emotions no longer being as relevant. In an article published on Forbes, it was argued that the advance of technology in virtual mediation has caused the skill of maintaining each party’s confidentiality to be made less demanding and the mediator’s focus of managing the problem and relationship has been shifted. Ergo, the impact of the global crisis on mediator’s competencies and techniques, in respect of which she needs to rely on as a mediator and what specific combination when a particular type of conflict and disputants arises, cannot be taken too lightly. This is because “the prospect of lifelong competence and skill deepening leaves open the possibility of journey and growth for the mediator”. Professor Waldman noted that it is always seen as a fantastic opportunity to try something groundbreaking and innovative.
4. Future of Mediation Post-COVID-19
The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of online mediation. It is expected that the trend of using technology in mediation will continue. Even after the pandemic is over, it is likely that mediators and disputants will continue to seek technology-aided or technology-supported dispute resolution processes as it offers several advantages. For example, it allows for a more flexible mediation scheduling as mediators and disputants can potentially attend a mediation session from any location. In addition, there is also a wider choice of mediators who may reside in another country. As mentioned in section 3, the use of technology in conducting mediation is a major concern on whether the privacy of the information disclosed in the mediation process will be protected. So far, from the interviews and discussions with professional mediators, it is found that various video conference platforms are being used for online mediation and the mediators will provide the disputants with choices of platform. Both the mediation process and the platform will then have to comply with the provisions under the selected mediation requirements of the relevant ordinance and regulation. This could mean that the mediators will have to ensure that the platform itself is designed to protect the confidentiality of the mediation proceedings. Also, they will have to ensure that the platform adopts end-to-end encryption technology. This is to provide a safe line for protecting the privacy of the information disclosed during the mediation process. On top of that, there must be proper notification for obtaining the consent for recording, live broadcast and storing of the mediation session. In the absence of agreement between the mediator and disputants, the mediator would have to specify the mediation process and the level of protection offered by the selected platform in the mediation agreement.
4.1. Long-term Effects on Mediation Practices
Mediator Jonathan Kaplan, who is also the trainer and founder of the training company, discusses a number of things that might impact mediation practices long-term beyond COVID-19. He believes that as we embrace new technologies, mediation practices will change. He is of the opinion that at least in some parts of the mediation profession, there will be a requirement to operate online and therefore there are certain people that have been put in a position where they have had to embrace the technology far more quickly than they possibly would have done under normal circumstances, with the result that that will leave a long-term effect. He identifies the first long-term effect as being that online dispute resolution is here to stay. It offers a really good set of potential opportunities and he suggests that as time progresses, strategies and techniques will be developed by providers, which will improve the overall experience both for clients and the professionals. He says that it creates flexibility both for the clients and the mediators and the opportunities for it are really very interesting, depending largely on where in the world you are and also where in a particular country you are. So he is of the opinion that there could be some change in the standardization of practice but that still remains to be seen. He also comments that remote mediation will be embedded in many practice options and that could, in actual fact, be a very good development because people have the flexibility to choose whether or not they wish to mediate in person or mediate online. So he is suggesting that that actually could lead to a reduction in the volume of case files in the court or tribunal system because mediations can be done in some part online. While there will always be a need for physical in-person attendances and certain types of disputes clearly really do need sensory and other types of nonverbal inputs in order to reach a resolution, there can be significant impacts generated by the consistent long-term use of online dispute resolutions. In conclusion, Kaplan discusses the impact on the professional training itself. He thinks that the NHS capacity to deliver the required amount of training for the number of mediators that will be needed, which has been a sticking point for some time, could be positively impacted by the fact that a lot of the training can be done remotely. Also, he thinks that greater access to mediators could be achieved because of the fact that training could be provided in a more flexible way. He comments that a lot of people may wish to investigate this as a career change for the future. He also can find whether or not mediation’s going to be a tool of help and support in the future. He added that, does this mean that mediation might possibly become more of a career option?
Long-term Effects on Mediation Practices
4.2. Integration of Online and In-person Mediation
The hybrid practice of online and in-person mediation, which has been adopted by many mediators during the pandemic, represents an interesting and important shift in the field. It is possible that this kind of hybrid practice could continue and further develop post-COVID-19. Online mediation and in-person mediation both have their own advantages and limitations. Online mediation can provide greater scheduling flexibility and accessibility and reduced costs. It can also provide a solution for situations in which the parties are in different geographical locations. In-person mediation is known to provide a better platform for effective communication and relationship-building, as it allows the mediator to more easily pick up on non-verbal cues and helps to establish trust between the parties. Furthermore, research has shown that in-person mediation is more successful in achieving the resolution satisfaction from the parties and the sustainability of the agreement. However, compared to online mediation, the main downside of in-person mediation is the travel time and the cost. Also, the recent social distancing requirements due to COVID-19 has made in-person mediation more difficult to carry out and more risky for the parties and the mediators. As a result, the number of mediations taking place in the UK has been significantly reduced. Over the past few months, there has been an increasing number of enquiries about online mediation services. These enquiries have been successfully converted into online mediation cases and are being mediated via video conferencing platforms such as Zoom or Skype. In fact, most of the currently active mediation cases at some of the most well known mediation service providers are undertaken under the online mediation model. For example, National Family Mediation (NFM), which is the largest provider of family mediation in the UK has indicated that as the COVID-19 ‘lockdown’ restriction eases. It plans to maintain both of the online and in-person mediation services. This way, it can either continue with the ongoing online mediations or facilitate the clients who prefer a physical resolution.
4.3. Potential Changes in Mediation Regulations
The Covid-19 pandemic may lead to changes in mediation regulations. For example, mediators may be required to complete additional training before they can qualify to mediate cases in the changed circumstances that follow the pandemic. This is because it is likely that Covid-19 will influence the types of disputes that mediators will be asked to assist with and the approaches that may be effective in those disputes. Further, the pandemic may stimulate legislative changes to mediation practice and regulatory frameworks. In some jurisdictions, mediators are regulated either by general mediators’ councils or through sector-specific regulatory bodies, for example in family law or workplace disputes mediation. These bodies set standards for training, ethical conduct, and continued professional development that mediators need to comply with to continue to practice. It is not appropriate to suggest that regulatory reform could facilitate a quantum leap in the adoption of new technology in mediation. Indeed, legislative change is likely to be reactive and may change the mindset of mediators and users of mediation faster than the law. However, the preamble to the European Mediation Directive requires that mediation is encouraged and promoted by EU member states. It also requires that mediation should be conducted in an effective, efficient, and safe manner. There is potential for national laws and regulatory frameworks to encourage the use of online and remote mediation and perhaps to override party objections to the use of technology where it is reasonable to do so. Also, the provision that regulations shall not be applied to settlements resulting from conciliatory processes enabling parties to come to a solution actively has reference to the output, not the method of mediation. The use of conciliation in the UK courts, in fact, refers to a ‘without prejudice’ and judicial-led process which leads to a consent order. However, as technology mediates more and more, examinations and scrutiny of the legal and regulatory framework in potentially controlling or managing the output of mediation may need to be undertaken.
Dissertation Topic: Impact of COVID 19 on Mediation.

A brief overview of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on various aspects of society
Importance of studying the impact of COVID-19 on meditation
Research question and objectives
Literature review
Definition and history of meditation
Benefits of meditation for physical and mental health
Previous studies on the impact of meditation on stress and anxiety
Previous studies on the impact of COVID-19 on mental health
Theoretical framework: how COVID-19 might affect meditation practice and outcomes
Research design and approach
Data collection methods (e.g., surveys, interviews, secondary data analysis)
Sampling strategy and sample size
Ethical considerations
Summary of data collected
Analysis of data collected, including both quantitative and qualitative data
Findings related to the impact of COVID-19 on meditation practice and outcomes
Interpretation of results in light of existing literature and theoretical framework
Implications of findings for the practice of meditation during and after the pandemic
Limitations of the study and suggestions for future research
Summary of key findings and implications
Contribution of the study to the field of meditation and COVID-19 research
Suggestions for practitioners and policymakers
List of all sources cited in the dissertation

Published by
Write essays
View all posts