Negotiations are private
Mediation is a confidential and private process, and nothing said or agreed during a mediation can be relied on or made public outside the mediation room. This principle encourages an open approach to negotiations, giving everyone involved the confidence to make suggestions and statements, without any fear that these will be used against them. It also gives everyone in the family the security of knowing that the family’s privacy will be maintained. This confidentiality extends to court proceedings between you unless both of you agree that the mediation discussions should be referred to in subsequent legal proceedings.
Commitment to confidentiality
The Agreement to Mediate, which must be signed by both of you, commits everyone involved in the mediation, including the mediators, to this principle of confidentiality, except where there is an overriding duty to disclose something. This commitment is vital to trust, which, in turn, is vital to promoting open and honest communication. You and the mediators may decide that separate meetings are going to be private and that each of you will be able to share information with the mediators that you don’t necessarily want the mediators to share with the other person. However, if the mediators don’t believe that an open and honest conversation is going to be possible in the joint sessions, they will explain that the mediation won’t continue.
A few exceptions
There are some important limits on the confidentiality of the process.
- If the mediators are concerned that either a child or an adult is at risk of suffering significant harm, or there has been a specific allegation that a child had suffered significant harm, the mediators are under a duty to ensure that Social Services or the appropriate agency is informed.
- Under government rules designed to prevent money laundering and financial crime, the mediators may be required to make disclosure to the appropriate government authority if they suspect that there has been a crime (exceptionally the mediators may be under a duty to disclose personal data in connection with some other crime).
- The mediators are obliged to keep records of work completed, and quality assurance standards require that such records are reviewed from time to time by their professional practice consultants – every mediator subject to the Family Mediation Council Code of Practice must have regular contact with a supervisor known as a professional practice consultant.
- Documents disclosing financial information during mediation are usually prepared on the basis that they can be used by either party on an ‘open’ basis, and can be used in evidence during a court case.
- If you do not want your address to be disclosed to your partner, you must make sure that the mediator knows this.
'Privacy is not something that I'm merely entitled to, it's an absolute prerequisite.'