Proposal: Peer Reviews & Mediator Mentoring

Posted On: 2nd September 2011

Proposal: Peer Reviews & Mediator Mentoring by David Richbell.

A great insight into the thoughts of an excellent commercial mediator and his aims for the future of mastery of mediators.


In June 2011 MATA published a paper “Route to Mastery”, proposing a process of achieving continued excellence in mediation. One of the proposals was for Mediators to commit to one, or more, peer reviews each year, that is, for another experienced Mediator to sit in on an actual mediation to give the lead Mediator honest and constructive feedback. The reasoning for this proposal is the fact that mediation is a solitary process and that even if the Mediator usually has an Assistant at the mediation, such Assistant is likely to be inexperienced and therefore unlikely to give useful feedback. This is consistent with the IMI (International Mediation Institute) certification of MATA as a provider of advanced training programmes.

In addition, the paper proposed a Mentoring responsibility by experienced Mediators towards those of less experience.

This paper attempts to outline a realistic and workable scheme for both proposals.

Peer Review scheme


The Mediator will select a Reviewer, preferably from the MATA list (as those on the list will have had guidance on reviewing and are prepared to undergo reviews themselves). The Mediator will:

  • Inform the parties (using suggested wording below)
  • Agree reimbursement with the Reviewer (see fees below)
  • Agree a date for debrief.

The review is confidential and not to be shared with MATA or anyone else (unless both Mediator and Reviewer agree, and then only for clarification or assistance). It is suggested that the Mediator keeps a record of the review, for use in their own logbook or feedback Digest.

Notification to parties

It is important that the mediation parties do not assume that their chosen Mediator is being supervised. They should be informed using the following suggested wording:

“As part of the MATA/IMI programme of excellence for commercial Mediators, I would like xxxx, who is also an experienced Mediator, to attend the mediation on xxx as a Peer Reviewer. This happens once each year and xxx will be bound by the confidentiality provision of the Mediation Agreement and will attend without cost to the parties. I enclose details of the Peer Review programme together with his/her details and should appreciate your confirmation that you agree with his/her participation.”

There will be a short explanation on MATA headed paper to reinforce the credibility of the request.

If a party objects then the suggestion should be withdrawn without any further discussion.


The best arrangement is for the Mediator and Reviewer to have a reciprocal arrangement and so no fee share would be involved. However, if this is not possible then it id suggested that the fee share should be negotiated between the two on the following basis:

  • Between 25% and 33% of the Mediator’s fee, or
  • A flat fee of £1,000 (+ VAT).

Role of Reviewer

The role of the Reviewer is to discreetly observe the Mediator and to give honest and constructive feedback as a colleague (and friend), to:

  • Debrief the actual mediation
  • Give insights into style and techniques observed
  • Identify unhelpful behaviours (if any)
  • Identify any significant differences from the assessment criteria (summary attached)
  • Discuss differences between the Mediator’s and the Reviewer’s normal practice

and so ensure the Mediator’s maximum effectiveness at every mediation. The Reviewer should be familiar with the assessment criteria prior to the mediation.


The Mediator and Reviewer should debrief face to face, if possible:

  • On the day of the mediation, or, if that is not possible
  • Within seven days of the mediation.

The debrief would not normally last more than one hour.

Giving the review

Feedback should always be:

  • Specific
  • Helpful
  • Kind
  • Honest
  • Respectful

Receiving feedback

As with any feedback, the mind can be selective and the Mediator may remember only the good/bad bits out of context, so feedback should always be written down by the Mediator and treated as learning, not criticism. It is repeated that this is a confidential process and so feedback is private to the mediator and Reviewer. However, if a problem does arises, MATA should be contacted, again on a confidential basis.


It is proposed that MATA hold a register of Mediators who participate in the Peer Review scheme to register the review, issue reminders annually and to provide a Reviewer database.

Support papers

  1. MATA description of the Peer Review process (for passing to the parties)
  2. Summary of assessment criteria as identified by the Civil Mediation Council

Mentoring scheme

The above Peer Review scheme could be part of a wider Mentoring scheme, whereby experienced Mediators take responsibility for supporting, encouraging and sharing experience with less experienced Mediators. This could be in the form of:

  • Master Classes
  • Mediating with the Masters videocasts
  • Mediator breakfasts
  • Practice days
  • One-to-one support sessions
  • Offering assistantships
  • ‘Top Tips’ (as circulated by IPOS)
  • Sharing experience through talks, Practice Sheets or specific papers on mediation practice.

It is proposed that MATA hold a register of Mentors on its Mastery website.

David Richbell

July 2011

This scheme has been posted for your comments with a view to implementing the scheme by the end of this year.

All comments will be returned to David Richbell.

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