By Dr Lola Akin Ojelabi (La Trobe Law School)
The benefits of mediation to society, individuals and the justice system are numerous and these make mediation a process fast increasing in popularity and usage in many quarters. There has been an increase in the use of mediation in the courts, the community sector and even within government. In Australia, mediation quality is promoted through the National Mediator Accreditation System (NMAS) Approval and Practice Standards. Research, however, shows that ensuring quality in mediation goes beyond provisions of the NMAS partly because applying the standards to ethical and practical issues that may arise in a particular context may bring to the fore conflicts between the standards. An example of such a conflict is between the requirements of self-determination and a mediator’s ethical obligation to terminate or withdraw when it appears to the mediator that the proposed outcome is so unfair that it shocks the conscience. Maintaining a balance between the two creates a further dilemma for mediators. How does a mediator address the fairness of a proposed outcome in order to make a decision regarding termination or withdrawal? To address this dilemma, mediators go beyond the NMAS, reaching out to, and making decisions based on personal values, other professional values (and obligations which they may be bound by in any case) and sometimes ask the question: Can I live with this?
What values inform [your] decision-making when faced with ethical dilemmas in mediation?
For further information, see Lola Akin Ojelabi and Mary Anne Noone, Justice Quality and Accountability in Mediation Report (2013).
This post was originally published on The Australian Dispute Resolution Research Network blog on 3 March 2015.
Lola Akin Ojelabi, ‘Mediation Quality’, Law and Justice, 13 March 2015 (La Trobe Law School Blog, http://law.blogs.latrobe.edu.au/ )