What is a Mediation Information & Assessment Meeting?
The initial meeting during the mediation process is called a Mediation Information & Assessment Meeting, commonly referred to as a MIAM or a first meeting. The primary aim of a MIAM is to provide essential information and to have a discussion separately and confidentially with each participant prior to the mediation process commencing. It is not a mediation session.
A MIAM session is confidential. Anything discussed in a MIAM with a participant will not be shared with the other participant, nor will it be disclosed to the court if court proceedings are issued later. Exemptions will apply on the point of confidentiality if there is a real risk of harm or abuse or an unlawful activity.
Only information that has been agreed to be shared with the other participant will be disclosed.
Who must attend a MIAM?
Intended court proceedings:
The compulsory requirement to attend a MIAM applies to any individual who intends to issue proceedings for a relevant family court application. The requirement to attend applies to both the intended applicant (the individual who commences court proceedings) and to the intended respondent (the individual who has to respond to the issued court application).
The intended applicant should provide contact details of the intended respondent to the mediator so that the mediator can discuss the purpose of a MIAM with the respondent.
Intended settlement out of court:
Even if the participants to mediation intend to settle their dispute out of court via the mediation process, both participants must attend a MIAM separately with the agreed mediator prior to the mediation process commencing. This will allow an assessment to take place as to whether mediation is suitable.
What to expect during a Mediation Information Assessment Meeting
The mediator should provide you with sufficient time and attention so that you are able to:
- discuss your situation,
- understand what mediation is,
- how mediation works,
- what options are available to you, and
- for the mediator to properly assess whether mediation is suitable.
The purpose of attending a Mediation Information Assessment Meeting is to essentially explore whether mediation or any other form of family dispute resolution is suitable for you and your circumstances. This could include collaborative practice, solicitor-negotiation or arbitration.
By attending a MIAM session, you are not signing up to the actual mediation process. This is only done, once each participant and the mediator have signed the Agreement to Mediate form after the MIAM sessions.
At the end of the MIAM session, the mediator will inform you if mediation is deemed suitable or not. You will also be provided with an opportunity to consider whether you wish to proceed with the mediation process or consider an alternative form of dispute resolution.
You might also be provided with information specifically to your circumstances which could include information on the effects of separation for children, debt management, counselling, accommodation, benefits and other personal professional support services.
Must you mediate and attend a MIAM?
There will be cases where it is deemed that mediation is not suitable or appropriate. This is usually in cases where there is domestic abuse although domestic abuse should not in itself be a bar to mediation.
This is so, provided the appropriate safeguards and structures are put into place including the use of shuttle mediation. However, your ability to negotiate freely should not be hindered in any form. If it is, mediation is not appropriate.
Other exemptions also exist and the mediator should discuss if any of these apply to you during the MIAM.
How long is a MIAM?
A MIAM usually lasts for around 45 minutes to an hour in duration.
How much does it cost to attend a MIAM?
If you are entitled to legal aid, then the MIAM and mediation sessions will be free. If you are not eligible to legal aid, then there will be a charge for the MIAM session.
Mediation Awareness Week takes place from 17 January 2022 and Anthony Gold is offering free mediation information meetings (MIAMS) for the whole of January. For more information please contact either Michelle Howarth at [email protected] or Jordan Ridley at [email protected] or by telephone on 020 7940 4000.
What happens after the first MIAM?
If each participant and the mediator agree that mediation is appropriate, then the first joint mediation session will be arranged.
Please note, that all information received by the mediator during the mediation process will be shared with each participant, although the information will remain confidential outside of the mediation process.
You can, and are often encouraged, to take legal advice from a solicitor whilst the mediation process is underway.
If court proceedings are to be issued, only mediators accredited by the Family Mediation Council (accredited mediators) can sign the relevant court form to confirm that you have attended a MIAM.
Can Mediation Information Assessment Meetings be done remotely?
MIAMs can be conducted remotely and certainly have been during the pandemic. However, subject to restrictions, you should consider whether a MIAM should take place on a remote basis or whether an in-person assessment would be more beneficial for a proper assessment as to suitability.