Tips for mediators for virtual mediations

Make sure that the laptop/tablet which you propose to use is fully charged or plugged in to the mains.

Check the background for your log in details. Make sure that you are sitting in a private place where you will not be interrupted or overheard.

Ensure that you have informed the couple in advance that no-one else is to attend the mediation out of screen shot or listen in to the session.  Ask for this assurance from each of the couple (and their lawyers if in attendance) at the start of the session. Advise that the session may not be recorded.

Agree in advance with the couple whether they are prepared to attend a joint meeting or would prefer to be seen separately. Do not assume that simply because this is a remote meeting the couple are happy to be on line in attendance at the same time. If you need to spend time with the couple’s lawyers separately make sure time is allocated for this and a separate meeting is set up.

Ensure that all required documents (mediation agreement and preliminary questionnaire) have been provided to both parties and returned in advance. For ID arrange for each party to hold up their ID on camera so you can take a screen shot and store electronically.

If the couple wish to attend individually agree a mechanism in advance as to which of the couple should be seen first. Alphabetically by Christian name is the method which I use.

Ensure that you have sent the electronic meeting invitation to each of the couple and ask them to confirm receipt well in advance of the session. Ensure that you have booked sufficient time with the platform provider to cover the period proposed for the meeting. It is essential that you are the ‘host’ for the meeting so that you are in charge of the invitations and the start and conclusion of the session rather than allowing one of the couple to take this control.

If you are dealing with the couple on a ‘shuttle’ or individual basis, ensure that you book separate meeting time for each period with each party so there is no danger of the other still being online and over-hearing. Ideally allocate a separate password for each Zoom meeting

In the event that you are seeing the couple together, decide and set whether you would like all parties to be mute at the start. Ensure that you can see the couple in gallery view so you can see both even when one is talking. Make sure that you are able to take notes without appearing to have lost eye contact with the couple. If your meeting involves a larger group ensure that attendees’ mics are muted when they are not speaking as background noise can cause a difficulty.

Otherwise conduct the mediation exactly as you would if you were seeing the couple in person.

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