There are many times when a mediator is removed from the mediation process because he or she is not neutral or has a conflict of interest. Since neutrality is one of the cornerstones of the mediation process, using an ethical filter to maintain it is crucial. An ethical filter is “a simple theoretical instrument that helps the mediator to manage a conflict of interests inside the mediation process, in order to guarantee a neutral and independent approach.” There are three questions the mediator must ask him/herself in order to remain neutral. We will highlight each of these questions in this post and discuss the issue in detail.
Is this information likely to affect my neutrality?
This is the first question a mediator should ask himself during the entire process. The answer to this question may result in a direct or indirect link with the parties. Any answer that puts the mediator’s independence in question should be carefully examined. If there is no information that will affect your neutrality, then the mediation can continue without any worries of bias. The mediator may find asking himself this question each time the parties meet for mediation since new biases and information can be revealed with every meetings.
Does this information affect my neutrality?
This second question highlights the important difference between what we think and what may happen in reality. While we may think certain information will not affect our neutrality, it may actually impact you in reality. Another way to phrase this question is whether or not you feel independent anymore after certain information is revealed. If you still feel in control and independent, the next step would be turning towards the closure of the mediation process and moving towards a settlement. If you do not feel independent, then the parties should decide what to do and whether they will continue to go through with the mediation process.
In these circumstances, what do you choose to do with the mediator?
Parties must be fully aware of the conflict of interest. It is the mediator’s duty to inform the parties of his/her conflicts of interest and reveal the context of the conflict. After the mediator has presented himself to both parties, it is up to the parties to make a final decision. The mediation can either continue or be closed due to a revealed conflicts of interest.
We believe using these three questions and the Ethical Filter can help enhance a mediator’s neutrality and avoid conflicts of interest. The image below is a visual representation of the Ethical Filter. More information about this process can be found at the link below.
Source referenced: Mediate