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7 questions to ask when choosing your mediation service

Whatever you do, choose a mediation service you are happy with and one you know has professional FMC accreditation, experience, qualifications and skills to do a good job for you.  

Whether or not you go with Harmony Mediation for your family mediation we suggest you should ask the following questions of any service you are looking at, to help you make an informed choice:

1. The most important question of all. Is your mediator FMC accredited?

(If you only ask one question of a mediator this is it.)

To give the public peace of mind about the qualifications and status of family mediators the Family Mediation Council (in conjunction with the Ministry of Justice) has set up a register of suitably qualified accredited family mediators who can use the letters 'FMCA'.  

Only FMCA mediators are recognised by the courts to sign court forms..

Make sure your family mediator is FMCA compliant.  Details of qualified accredited mediators can be found here:

https://www.familymediationcouncil.org.uk/find-local-mediator/

 

2. Are the mediators able to offer more than one type of mediation?

Can they offer only one kind of mediation? Do they offer shuttle, co-mediation, Direct Consultation with Children?  Are they able to undertake both legal aid and private work?

Our response:

Each case is different and an experienced mediator will make discuss with you the best type of mediation for your case. We don't offer a 'one size fits all' approach to mediation but discuss with you the best approach to your case.  Our mediators are experienced at handling cases on their own, or with another mediator if required.  

We also offer co-mediation at no additional cost to you when one of the mediators is a trainee or lacks the experience to mediate a case without assistance.

 

3. How many cases have the mediators handled? How many cases does the service handle in a year? 

Would you like to see a mediator who conducts a few mediation cases a year or one who permanently has mediation cases 'on the go'? The more cases being handled in a service the more experience there is available to benefit clients. Previous experience as a solicitor or counsellor or other profession can be helpful, but it is not the same as being a family mediator.  Family mediation is a profession in its own right.

Does the service charge VAT? The answer to this question will give you an idea of the volume of mediation work carried out.

Our response:

Harmony Mediation is a specialist mediation service. We have handled almost 7,300 referrals since 2006 and yes, we charge VAT.  This may make our prices appear a little higher but you are paying for an established experienced dedicated service.

 

4. Is mediation what the service specialises in - or is it an add on? Do they have dedicated, permanent business offices in each location? Is your phone call answered by a specialist administrator...or does it go to a mobile phone? 

Is the service full-time and focused on mediation? Are their mediation rooms permanent, dedicated offices or just rooms hired by the hour? Is there a dedicated telephone line for mediation and specialist mediation administration staff?  Is there a website devoted to mediation alone or is it an incidental service among many others?

Our response:

Again, yes to all questions. We have a full-time experienced mediation administration staff, who are employees of Harmony Mediation, to deal with queries, answering your calls on one of our five dedicated telephone lines. 

Our offices are permanent offices dedicated for the use of our mediators and clients. We don't use hired by the hour ad hoc meeting rooms as we have found these do not always offer a suitably professional, private environment.

 

5. Who owns the service? Who audits or regulates the service?  Is it run in a business-like manner?

Is the service regulated by any external organisation? 

Our response:

For ten years, up to 2016,  Harmony Mediation was audited by the Legal Aid Agency working under contract with this government body. We gave up our Legal Aid contract in February 2016 as we could not continue to offer a high quality service on the fees paid by legal aid which had not increased since 2007.

We employ the services of two Professional Practice Consultants to assist us.

We also have the services of our Commercial Director who is a Chartered Accountant and worked in the City of London for over 40 years. His expertise ensures Harmony Mediation runs efficiently and meets all compliance and regulatory requirements.

 

6. Does the service have a professional presence?

When it comes to professional presence there have always been Harmony Mediation mediators represented on many of the national bodies. (We like to know what is going on!) Until recently one of our mediators was the mediation representative on the Hertfordshire Family Justice Board.

Our Practice Director recently served as one of six representatives sitting on the Family Mediation Council, the umbrella organisation recognised by the Ministry of Justice as representing mediation.  She has also been part of a Ministry of Justice working party on mediation and a participant at a working group commissioned by the Cabinet Office to look at ways of improving mediation.

Harmony Mediation set up a network of mediation services spread across the country who meet regularly to share ideas and suggestions for ways we can all improve our services to clients.

 

7. What is client service like?

Does it feel like a professional service?  Is there a permanent office with a specialist mediation administration team there to answer your call - or does it go straight to a mobile? Does the service use rent-by-the-hour offices to hold meetings?

We aim to offer a professional service and have a permanent Head Office with an a highly experienced full-time administration team.

We use our own offices in two locations for our mediation.  We find this is the best way to ensure our  confidential mediation sessions are being held in appropriate settings.

To run a professional service isn't cheap but through efficiencies and re-investing any profits in the service we are able to keep our fees competitive.  

 

 

 

 

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