After days of talks, disputing parties reach an agreement on the core issues. They want closure, so the mediator and attorneys begin drafting the written agreement that will be enforceable. Confidential talks will continue, even as the parties seek agreement on some of the final issues. In all this, confidentiality has to be adhered to; an aspect so important that its absence may make or break a case.
Confidentiality is very important in the mediation process. For the disputing parties to feel open to raising their issues and motivations, they must be assured the discussions will not be disclosed to the public. Take that away and participants will surely have no motivation to come to the negotiation table. In many cases, parties will disclose private issues and perceptions that they would not want others to hear. Most mediators will tell you that getting clients to open up about their fears is what often leads to finding solutions.
“These are mediation proceedings and cannot be disclosed to outside parties,” is what mediators explain to disputing parties. “Whatever you say within the setting of these discussions is confidential.” These statements are usually said in the opening session of the mediation talks and precede the signing of a mediation agreement that ensures both parties agree to the process. Once everyone is clear on the process and the roles of the mediator, reaching an agreement that best serves both sides is the core focus.
Theresa Beatty, a family/divorce mediator, working in LaGrange, Atlanta, knows it’s important to enforce confidentiality. “It’s often the best way to get clients to open up and share their thoughts, which greatly helps in crafting a resolution.”