Online Mediation or In-Person: Determining the best Path for your Case

  • August 27, 2021
  • Marshall Schnapp

With the eventual easing of COVID-19 restrictions, we will have the option of doing mediations in-person again rather than only remotely. However, given remote mediations have proven to be effective, settlement rates are similar to the in-person format and they offer cost and time savings, is there any reason for face-to-face mediations?

Yes! There are still many benefits and reasons to do an in-person mediation. Here are 5 factors you need to consider before deciding whether a case should be mediated online or in person:

1.   Technological capabilities

Given its efficiency as noted above, it is easy to make online mediation the default choice. That fails to consider the parties involved and their comfort level with technology. Find out if they’ve used virtual platforms like Zoom and Teams before. If the participants are unfamiliar or express apprehension, their discomfort in using a virtual platform or interruptions because of inexperience could impede the process. They are also likely to have an ineffective set up with poor lighting making it difficult for them to be seen on video.

When it comes to tech capabilities, also consider geography. Participants might live in a place with a slow internet connection or with frequent bandwidth disruptions. Low internet speed and bandwidth issues can significantly impact the efficiency of the mediation because it disrupts the flow of communication.

Finally, simply ask the parties in the case if they have a preference. If one or more of them expresses a preference for in-person mediation with a valid explanation, then choose the option where everyone will be most comfortable and puts everyone in a setting with the best chance of settling the file.