Mediations often start with a joint meeting of all parties.
The mediator will usually invite each side to address the other side – the “opening statement”.
The opening statement is often delivered by a legal representative but in personal injury claims it is not uncommon for the claimant themselves to speak. Often they will take this opportunity to explain what impact the injuries have had on their lives. The claimant’s authenticity can have a considerable impact on the defendant’s assessment of the case.
This is an important opportunity for the claimant to tell their story and to be listened to. It distinguishes mediations from joint settlement meetings because of the claimant’s involvement.
The mediator will give the parties the opportunity to ask questions directly. The meeting will last as long as there is a useful exchange of information. Either party is free to leave the meeting and return to their private room at any time.
The meeting may end with the mediator and parties identifying how best to use the time available.