Mediation and conciliation are original ways of resolving disputes in which the search for fairness takes its place alongside the judiciary. These two types of dispute resolution should not be confused. Mediation supposes the mandatory intervention of an independent third party, the mediator, who is suggested and appointed by a judge. This person helps the parties reach an agreement, through dialogue, without any intervention by the judge. The agreement will, however, be referred back to the judge for his or her approval. Conciliation is also intended to help the parties reach an agreement, however, unlike mediation, it may be conducted by the judge him or herself, if that person so wishes, and may be attempted if the judge thinks fit, even without the parties' formal consent. This means that the court's role in mediation is limited to preparing and organising the process, while the judge may play a central role in the conciliation process. Should the judge wish to play the role of conciliator, he or she must acquire the techniques necessary to do so.
The aim of this session is to consider the value of alternative methods of dispute resolution, and to understand what is at stake in various types of dispute. It will suggest practical ways in which to start mediation, in terms of departmental organisation, and will allow participants who so wish to learn conciliation techniques through role plays and workshops.