Whenever I get asked if a participant should bring someone with them to their mediation, I ask them 3 questions.
1. Will they support you whatever your decision?
You need someone there who has your interests at heart, but in front of whom you can speak openly and honestly without the fear of their nose being put out of joint or them saying “I told you so”.
2. Do they have any issue with the other participant(s)?
The last thing you need at your mediation is someone with an alternative goal to your own. If there have been problems previously between (let’s say) your work colleague and your former boss are they really there to support you or just to have their say about the other participant? Equally if they have a financial interest in the outcome it may be better to have them stay away than have them try to interfere with the process for their own ends.
3. Will you feel safer/happier/more comfortable with the person there?
You may want to have a friend along just to be there for you, if you do it’s probably a good idea to have discussed the problem and the reason for the mediation with them before-hand so you don’t have to spend time explaining to them what’s going on.
There are different considerations when proceedings are already issued.
Quite often (though not necessarily) the solicitor with conduct will want to attend, as may witnesses. If this is the case then I like to remind the participants that this is their mediation and not a court. In private or commercial alternative dispute resolution the facts that led to the mediation aren’t necessarily the key to resolving the dispute.
At Northwest Mediation we don’t take or exchange witness evidence or give legal advice we simply strive to resolve the issue you have. You can bring your solicitor but they necessarily take a back seat, and you might not feel they added much to the day (other than a bill) as it’s you who will be talking and making the decisions, it’s your dispute and we will help you resolve it.