Until 2020 the majority of mediations were conducted in person, with the participants and any legal representatives conducting face to face negotiations. Although in theory in person mediations can still take place provided the venue arrangements and any travel needed follow Turkish Ministry of Justice guidelines, these guidelines are frequently being updated which means that planning ahead is difficult as changes to government policy can be announced at very little notice.
Venue arrangements are the responsibility of the Mediation Centre. There should be one room for each party and the mediator as well as one larger room that can accommodate everyone attending so that a joint session can be held.
It is important that the joint room is of a sufficient size to ensure any social distancing requirements are observed as recommended by Turkish Ministry of Justice, and all attendees must follow the government’s guidelines on Covid. You should therefore not attend if you are displaying any symptoms or have been told to self-isolate. Protective equipment such as face masks should be worn at all times if required under Turkish government guidance.
Bringing the right people at the right time
Mediation succeeds in disputes when you bring together the right people at the right time, the environment for decision-making is positively transformed. The parties and their professional advisors, including those with authority to make or influence a decision, meet in the same place at the same time, and the ‘correspondence’ between the parties is accelerated. That immediacy of information exchange, the opportunity to see reactions (and explore the reasoning or motivation behind them), and the without-prejudice nature of communication (and option generation), all create a new dynamic better suited to decision-making. Add to that the independence and skills of the mediator, and the parties have an effective environment for negotiating an agreement.
There are some advantages of in-person mediation which are difficult to replicate remotely. We have found that the parties’ commitment to attend in person tends to increase their willingness to find an agreement on the day, because they are aware of how much effort it has taken to get this mediation organised. It is far easier to exit an online meeting.
There is a quality about observing participants’ in-person interactions, getting a sense of how they are approaching the mediation. This quality is different when the meeting is conducted remotely. There are compensating benefits for the mediator, which include being able to observe everyone at the same time.