ON THE HORIZON – ONLINE MEDIATION IN SOUTH AFRICA
The Impact of Covid-19 on Mediation
In the face of Covid-19, Online Mediation offers a solution that is convenient, secure and affordable.
The Covid-19 Pandemic has been a nightmare for the World we live in. Thanks to modern technology, developed long before Covid was even a part of our vocabulary, the business world has been able to weather prolonged lockdown.
Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, and a host of other online-video conferencing platforms have effectively changed the way we all do business. For those of us who work in the Divorce and Family Mediation field, these platforms have changed the way we are now resolving disputes. Online Mediation could not have come at a better time. Online Mediation is still mediation but just in a slightly different form.
In the face of country lockdowns, second waves of infection, renewed surges and the fear of accidental exposure to a potentially deadly virus, more and more people are starting to opt for online mediation (or virtual mediation as it is also commonly known) rather than attend long drawn out face-to-face mediation sessions which could increase their own risk of getting the virus.
This is definitely the way to go.
The Advantages of Online Mediation
So what are the Advantages of Online Mediation as compared to the more traditional mediation process? There are numerous advantages to attending an Online Mediation with a suitably qualified online mediator, these include:
FLEXIBILITY ON TIME. Parties are not bound by normal office hours. As long as there is a computer, an internet connection, and a willingness to mediate, the online mediation can take place at the convenience of the Parties and Mediator.
RELAXEDNESS ON ENVIRONMENT. Parties are able to mediate in the comfort and privacy of their own home. Sure, child care provisions may have to be put in place to ensure that the kids don’t stumble in on the mediation session. Having said that, the comfort of remaining in a familiar environment however far outweighs any of the stress associated with having to go to a stranger’s boardroom to “face” the other side.
SPEED OF PROCESS. Online Mediation is a far more focused process and this ultimately translates to a saving of time and money.
DISPUTING PARTIES DONT NEED TO MEET FACE-TO-FACE. Face to face physical encounters can be stressful. Particularly where the Parties may have been in a relationship with one another. Online Mediation allows parties to properly “see” each other without having to be in the same environment.
THERE ARE NO GEOGRAPHICAL RESTRAINTS. Parties’ can choose who to approach to assist them with the mediation of their matter. This does not have to be limited to the area of their residence or work. On proviso that a Mediator is prepared to do the online mediation, that person can be appointed irrespective of where they may reside.
THE PROCESS IS FLEXIBLE. Parties who are in a face-to-face mediation can transform their mediation to an online mediation and vice versa. Should parties in an online session need to meet with the mediator separately, this can also be easily achieved via the use of separate zoom breakaway rooms.