Mediation, as used in law, is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR). It is a way of resolving disputes between two or more parties with concrete effects. Typically, a third party, the mediator, assists the parties in negotiating a settlement. Disputants may mediate disputes in a variety of domains, such as commercial, legal, diplomatic, workplace, community, and family matters.
The term “mediation” broadly refers to any instance in which a third party helps others reach an agreement. More specifically, mediation has a structure, timetable, and dynamics that “ordinary” negotiation lacks. The process is private and confidential, possibly enforced by law. Participation is typically voluntary. The mediator acts as a neutral third party and facilitates rather than directs the process.