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Mediation is an alternative means of dispute resolution, which means that disputes are resolved out of the court, thus are not regulated by law generically.
Mediation process is voluntary in nature and confidential. The parties try to reach an agreement and the responsibility for coming up with the decisions to be taken lies with the parties involved.
In general, mediation is formal in nature. As it always requires the involvement of a third party, it can be considered this to be an intermediate process between conciliation and arbitration.
In mediation, the parties, assisted by an impartial third party – the mediator – seek to reach an agreement to settle the dispute between them. Unlike a judge or an arbitrator, a mediator has no decision-making power regarding the result of the argument. Instead, the mediator guides the parties and helps them to communicate so they can find the basis of an agreement to end the conflict.
Mediation is a means of speedy alternative dispute resolution, lasting on average three months. It does not exclude the possibility of subsequently resort to conciliation proceedings or arbitration. Mediation allows the relationship between parties in dispute to be maintained.
In Portugal there are three public mediation systems, specifically for family, labor and criminal law.
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