Clarification of Misperceptions Arising from the Article, “Number of Neighbour Disputes Hit High” (8 August 2011)
20 Aug 2011 Posted in Replies
Minister(Law)’s clarification as reported in the media:
Clarifications of misperceptions about mediation
- False: In mediation, the mediator decides on the solution for the dispute.
True: The mediator does not decide on the solution for the dispute. The mediator acts only as a neutral third party to facilitate discussion between disputing parties. Parties make their own value judgements and choices, and work out solutions to resolve the conflict themselves.
- False: The mediator makes a judgement on the dispute, and imposes a solution on the disputing parties.
True: The mediator does not and cannot make a judgement on the case. Mediation is not a court hearing. In mediation, no judgement is made about the merits of the dispute. Instead, it is about facilitating discussion between disputing parties so that they can resolve the dispute between themselves. The mediator cannot and has no authority to force disputing parties to accept any solution. The parties must voluntarily agree to a settlement being discussed; if they are not agreeable, they are free to reject it and even walk away from the mediation. The mediator should also not impose his views on the solution being discussed by the disputing parties. If mediators try to impose their own values and object to a solution being proposed by one party, or take the side of the other party, the first party will see the mediator as biased and the mediation will likely break down because of loss of trust in the mediator’s neutrality.
- False: Disputing parties must accept a proposed solution, and cannot reject it.
True: Disputing parties need not accept a proposed solution. The final settlement must be mutually acceptable to both disputing parties. If either of the parties are not comfortable or agreeable to any solution being discussed, they are entirely free to reject it and are under no obligation whatsoever to accept it. This is borne out by the fact that one out of every four cases mediated by the CMC, fail to result in settlement.
- False: Disputing parties must come to a solution.
True: Disputing parties do not have to come to a solution. Mediation is a neutral and informal platform for parties to try and settle their disputes through discussion.Should the parties not be able to come up with a mutually agreeable solution after discussion, they are free to withdraw from the process at any time.
- False: CMC staff can endorse, reject or influence the solution for a dispute.
True: CMC staff cannot endorse, reject or influence the solution for a dispute. CMC staff only handle the operations of the CMC. They are not involved in the mediation process which involves only the disputing parties and the mediators. They are not always present in the mediation room. The mediator is not a CMC staff. He or she is a volunteer trained in community mediation. The CMC has over 130 trained volunteer mediators who serve at the CMC on a pro bono basis (i.e. they are not remunerated for their mediation services). These volunteer mediators come from all walks of life, age and ethnic groups as well as professions. Many are grassroots and community leaders, experienced in handling community matters and familiar with issues on the ground.
- False: The mediated settlement in one case sets a precedent for other disputes over issues of a similar nature.
True: The mediated settlement in one case does not set a precedent for other disputes over issues of a similar nature. Unlike a court case, where case precedents and judgements form the basis for future judgements, in mediation, since there is no judgement, and the outcome is decided and agreed mutually by the disputing parties and not by the mediator, two disputes of identical nature could end up with two different outcomes. Every party brings to a mediation his or her own set of perspectives, beliefs and values, and what he or she may agree to as settlement, could be very different from what another party in a different dispute of a similar nature, may agree to.
Last updated on 17 Jan 2013