One of the Primary Recommendations of the Mediate.com Task Force on Online Mediation is to update mediation practice and ethical standards to fully embrace online mediation. In response, the Mediate.com Board of Directors has now formally adopted the Task Force’s Recommended Practice Standards for Online Mediation effective January 1, 2022.
The Task Force’s Recommendation reads as follows:
“3 – Update Mediation Practice and Ethical Standards to Embrace Current and Evolving Issues Raised by Online Mediation
Update mediator practice and ethical standards to fully embrace online mediation and online mediation training. Online privacy and security issues need to be addressed in addition to mediation confidentiality. Issues of participant communicational preferences, and platform equity and access also need to be addressed.”
As is described under the Standards and Technology Committee section of the Final Task Force Report, the following Practice Standards for Online Mediation are intended to be consistent with the International Council for Online Dispute Resolution (ICODR) Standards (ICODR.org) for ODR generally, except that these new standards are exclusively focused on online mediation processes as opposed to ODR generally.
Mediate.com Practice Standards for Online Mediation
- Accessible: Online Mediation should be easy for parties to find and participate in and not limit their right to representation. Online Mediation should be available through both mobile and desktop channels, minimize costs to participants, and be easily accessed by people with different physical ability levels.
- Accountable: Online Mediation providers should be continuously accountable to participants and the legal institutions and communities that are served.
- Competent: Online Mediation providers must have the relevant expertise in dispute resolution, legal, technical execution, language, and culture required to deliver competent, effective services in their target areas. Online Mediation services must be timely and use participant time efficiently.
- Confidential: Online Mediation providers must maintain the confidentiality of party communications in line with policies that must be made public around: a) who will see what data, and b) how that data can be used.
- Impartial: Online Mediation must treat all participants with respect and dignity. Online Mediation may enable often silenced or marginalized voices to be heard, and ensure that offline privileges and disadvantages are not replicated in the Online Mediation process.
- Fair/Impartial/Neutral: Online Mediation providers must treat all parties impartially and in line with due process, without bias or benefits for or against individuals, groups, or entities. Conflicts of interest of providers, participants, and system administrators must be disclosed in advance of the commencement of Online Mediation services.
- Legal: Online Mediation providers must abide by and uphold the laws in all relevant jurisdictions.
- Secure: Online Mediation providers must ensure that data collected and communications between those engaged in Online Mediation is not shared with any unauthorized parties. Users must be informed of any breaches in a timely manner.
- Transparent: Online Mediation providers must explicitly disclose in advance: a) the form and enforceability of mediation outcomes, and b) the risks and benefits of participation. Data in Online Mediation should be gathered, managed, and presented in ways to ensure it is not misrepresented or out of context.